Expanding public-private partnerships is the best way to achieve African development breakthroughs

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

“The best solutions are found when the public and private sectors join forces.”

Sir, Jeffrey Sachs’ article (“Ambition and action are as important as commitments”, September 15) calls for urgent, comprehensive action by the international community to achieve internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals and a “Green Revolution” for Africa.

It is true that the UN and Bretton Woods institutions must be prepared to step up official development aid to developing countries to make this happen. But, governments must also remember that the private sector has a big role to play, and that a stronger impact can be achieved through co-operation and expansion of successful public-private partnerships.

Making a Green Revolution for Africa a reality will not come about through increased aid alone. Ensuring continued research, development and access to innovative technologies that sustainably improve the global production of food, feed, fibre and other useful products is critical. The best solutions are found when the public and private sectors join forces.

Take as an example the recent completion of the rice genome. As well as representing a significant advance in genetic research, the work by the publicly-funded International Rice Genome Sequencing Project (IRGSP) delivers new hope for the 3bn people who rely on rice as the staple of their daily diet. The work of the IRGSP team was supported by private sector research, with leading plant science companies donating their genome sequences to the project.

Other projects are using biotechnology and traditional breeding techniques to create new varieties of crops important to African agriculture that require less water and labour inputs, while producing higher yields and greater nutrition. Sustainable farming techniques using better chemicals are being facilitated to enhance biodiversity and the environment.

New strategies for controlling destructive pests such as locusts are being developed. These are a few examples of the work being conducted through initiatives involving the plant science industry and public research groups, which are already delivering real benefits to resource poor farmers and their communities around the world.

Christian Verschueren,

CropLife International,
B-1050 Brussels, Belgium

(Via PSD Blog)

Source: Financial Times (Letters) (link opens in a new window)