Public-Private-Peasant-Partnership: Who needs who?

“Partnership is like the dark matter of the universe. We all know it’s there but, we are not exactly sure what it is made of.”
Nick Perkins

The term public–private partnership is not a new buzz word in the development sector and trying to paint a picture of the exact time it was introduced will only leave a blurry image on the canvas of one’s mind. Although one thing is certain, the key word in the concept – partnership – is here to stay. But, the various shades and paint strokes of application differ for a lot of folks.

Signing partnership agreements has become a fashionable trend for politicians, project funders, programme implementers, policy makers, private sector players, peasant farmers and the “P” list goes on beyond the popular alliteration of "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…" nursery rhyme.

Dr. Paul Winters, Associate Vice-President at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), during one of the side events at the 44th session of the Committee on World Food Security, affirmed that “partnership is an end to itself.” Making references to several interventions being implemented to “help” smallholder farmers to access markets, he cited the recent partnership agreement signed to implement a project in Indonesia. Dr. Christoph Neuman the director of international regulatory affairs, crop protection at CropLife International also gave examples of how the organization is setting a good example to other private sector players, on partnering with local institutions and individuals from different continents to strategically implement crop protection interventions. He went on to describe the working dynamics with international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) to include crop protection technologies into their project development agenda to help smallholder farmers.

In a recent fact sheet by FAO, smallholders provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, small-scale fisheries contribute to 46 percent of global marine and inland fish catches and in developing countries, this share grows to 54 percent. When considering catches destined for direct human consumption, the share contributed by small-scale fisheries increases to two-thirds. Small-scale fisheries employ over 90 percent of the world’s 35 million capture fishers and support another estimated 85 million people employed in associated processing, distribution and marketing.

Now, shouldn’t we explore the logical deductions and wider implications that can be drawn from this pool of available statistics?  If 80 percent of the food is supplied by smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa, then why is the industrial sector failing to feed this part of the world? If small-scale fisheries contribute two-thirds of fish for direct human consumption, then who are the big private sector players fishing for?  Finally, taking a few seconds to reflect on the number of people employed in and through small-scale fisheries, I think we should re-evaluate the accuracy of applying the word “small.” The market systems where smallholder farmers operate are quite informal but well organized.

Re-echoing the words of Tiare Boyes, a commercial Halibut fisher from British Columbia Canada, during another CFS44 side event What today’s young agricultural leaders need to meet tomorrow’s SDG challenges, “there is a disconnect between those who are making the decisions and those affected by the decisions.” Bringing it home, Dr. Washington Otieho proposed that to develop an effective framework for partnership, there has to be adequate transparency as regards what is in it for each partner. He ended his speech by saying “we all need each other to deliver a more food secure future.”

I can’t help but agree. We all need each other but, who needs who more?


This blogpost covers the CFS44 side event “How Cross-Sectorial Partnerships Help Smallholders Deliver a More Food Secure Future: A multi-stakeholder discussion to determine which partnership models work and where challenges remain”

Blogpost by Pius Hiwe, #CFS44 Social Reporter –

Photo Credit: Pixabay

This post is part of the live coverage during the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, a social media project supported by GFAR. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

12/10/2017 20:34


Rachel Weisz 15-05-18 08:12
Hello everybody,
Partnership is like the dark matter of the universe. We all know it’s there but, we are not exactly sure what it is made of