We are recognizing that many solutions to the complex challenges facing rural communities and food systems in developing countries can only be found through innovative partnerships and collaborations in agricultural research and development. Partnerships between public research institutions, private firms, and civil society organizations offer a means of tapping the strengths of diverse actors, while channeling knowledge and resources into areas where they can contribute to poverty reduction, food security, and agriculture-led development and growth. Partnerships in research and innovation enhance capacity to solve complex development problems and to provide options to smallholder farmers, food-insecure households, rural women, and other vulnerable groups.
To unleash the potential synergies of such partnerships, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) convened an international dialogue on “Pro-Poor Public-Private Partnerships for Food and Agriculture” in Washington, DC on September 28-29, 2005, cosponsored by the U.K. Department for International Development and organized by IFPRI’s Communications and ISNAR divisions.
The event was part of IFPRI’s expanding research agenda on public-private partnerships for food and agriculture in developing countries. IFPRI’s research has covered many policy aspects of the food and agricultural sector, including conventional crop breeding, agricultural biotechnology, processing and value addition, and small-scale agro-industry. Key elements of this research agenda were highlighted at several conferences and workshops conducted in various regions of the world in 2004-2005.
The objectives of this dialogue were to take stock, identify new opportunities, address key policy issues, and develop practical and sustainable solutions that foster more effective pro-poor partnerships covering the full range of opportunities in the agricultural sector: on-farm production, off-farm agroindustry, distribution, and marketing.
This event came at a critical time: a time when private sector investment in agricultural research is growing rapidly and providing new technologies and market opportunities for developing countries; but also a time when we are realizing that the Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved without more effective efforts to enlist private sector support and collaboration in agricultural research and development.
Over 90 key actors attended the event, including representatives of leading multinational and developing-country agribusiness firms, developing-country governments, scientific research institutes, and non-governmental organizations.