Public-private partnerships: Teamwork achieves many goals
The Foundation creates value for small farmers in developing countries through innovation in sustainable agriculture and the activation of value chains. This requires ‘enablers’ of many kinds, usually only made possible by partnerships.
The aim is to use complementary assets to maximum advantage. Partners must agree to objectives, roles, responsibilities, and incentives. They also need to jointly protect and benefit from intellectual property, and work towards a unified vision of enhanced farm productivity.
Why are public-private partnerships vitally important? Public investment in productivity-enhancing agricultural R&D has been declining in most of the world outside China. Private investments and capability, on the other hand, continue to grow. These trends open up the need and opportunities for R&D partnerships that pool assets to farmers' benefit . The public sector provides strength in crop improvement; private organizations contribute expertise in plant sciences, genomics, bioinformatics, and the marketing and delivery of products and services.
The Foundation builds partnerships worldwide
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are essential for advancing agriculture to meet global challenges in food security. They help widen access to technology and link farmers to markets. By combining strengths, the partners can all make better progress than on their own. Here is our database of public-private partnerships.
The Foundation is involved in a wide range of such partnerships, and continues to develop new ones aimed at providing solutions along the entire agricultural value chain.
For example, we work in a partnership to improve disease resistance in wheat. Syngenta scientists in France and the US work directly with colleagues at the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center - CIMMYT) in Mexico. They will make their data available to researchers in the public and private sectors. Further examples of R&D PPPs are the HarvestPlus multi-crop biofortification initiative and our Ethiopian tef project.
Cooperation in practice
Partnerships also form the basis of the Foundation’s extension projects in many parts of the world. Our program in India provides several good examples. There, thousands of smallholders benefit from improved access to knowledge and technology, delivered through diversified extension strategies. The PPPs providing advisory services involve the government, universities, NGOs, and commercial partners. The spread of knowledge is achieved through farmer workshops, village-level interactions and technology demonstrations in the farmers’ own fields. Major scale-up of these projects is now underway.
PPPs cover a wide range of further areas. As well as R&D or extension services, the Foundation’s former project partnerships also include index insurance in Kenya and Rwanda. Begun in 2009, this initiative developed agricultural micro-insurance for smallholders. By reducing the burden of weather risks on their shoulders, the aim was to enabling farmers to invest in fertilizer and other productivity-enhancing inputs. In 2014, the project became a company: ACRE.
Another crucial focus of PPPs is improved smallholder access to markets for their produce. A 2010 addition to our partnership portfolio aimed to establish an integrated supply chain for high-quality vegetables in the Peruvian Andes. The partners here included an NGO and Arcos Dorados, which run McDonald’s operations in Latin America. The initial successes led to expansion across and beyond Peru - in 2014, for example, into Puerto Rico. By the end of 2016, "Qorichacra" was running so well that our Foundation was able to withdraw.
Successful agricultural PPPs should all lead to ‘win-win situations’ that benefit farmers. Many key lessons are emerging from the Syngenta Foundation’s work in this area. Among them is the importance of due diligence to bring together the right partners, create complementary incentives, agree on the terms and conditions, and lay down clear responsibilities.
Do you have a question about public-private partnerships in agriculture? Ask the Syngenta Foundation here.