Public-Private (Community) Partnerships emerge for various reasons. In some cases, they are developed spontaneously from interactions between individuals in the private and public sector who are open to the idea of collaboration, and see opportunities for potential benefits to be achieved. In several other cases, they appear to be driven by crises, such as trade bans or outbreaks of food safety diseases, animal diseases or plant pests. In such cases, the public and private sector realize that they need to work together in order to more effectively solve problems which would be more difficult, if not impossible, to be resolved by working alone. In other cases, partnerships appear to be driven by development partners and donors as a tool for fostering development in developing countries.
In the agricultural sector, in particular, the public sector directs its efforts toward goals related to economic growth, social improvement in rural areas and environmental sustainability. Agribusinesses are generally motivated by measurable goals such as increased productivity, product quality and profitability, aimed at getting or improving market position. Small farmers usually seek to reduce vulnerability, supplement their scarce resources and access better knowledge and technologies.
Integrating multiple perspectives early in the process of identifying context and priorities is essential for successful collaborative arrangements and interventions. Also, to extend services to the poor, governments and partners need to adopt pro-poor policies and put in place regulatory regimes to effectively and consistently coordinate and oversee the achievement of poverty alleviation targets, whether delivery is by the public or the private sector. Governments, in close consultations with stakeholders, should define these targets, make necessary regulatory changes and build them into contracts with appropriate incentives for private operators and other non-state providers to meet the targets to improve value chains and enforce penalties for failure.
Creation of a business environment
Another area for government engagement is in providing an enabling business environment for creating business incubators and networks. Governments should not only be a source of regulation and policy formation, but also encourage judicial reform and procedural justice in administrative processes (such as property rights). Where private institutions are weak, governments should encourage and assist businesses in preparing for complying with global accreditation standards. Investments should be geared towards improving financial literacy of entrepreneurs, their ability to draft business plans should complement business training and specific technical support to engineer growth in value chains and unreliable supply chains should be firstly assessed and supported.
Governments cannot deliver a sustainable future alone. The (corporate) private sector has an important role to play in accelerating innovation and diffusing technologies.
Private sector involvement should not focus exclusively on the big agribusinesses, but should also invest in smaller-scale, less sophisticated methods of delivering added value that suit small agricultural and women-led businesses such as storage, transport, tools, processing equipment, ICT services, micro-finance and knowledge transfers, and which focus on geographical integration processes to stimulate efficient food distribution.