Addressing the challenges facing global food security over the next the forty years will require new interdisciplinary, farmer-driven partnerships that harness the private sector’s unique ability to bring new innovations to scale, said a panel of public and private sector representatives.
Several panelists also highlighted the need for a priority focus on solving problems, instead of just driving individual programs, and developing incentives that encourage and reward researchers for successful partnerships and collaboration.
By comparison, the challenges that we face today make the Green Revolution an easy challenge, said Sir Gordon Conway, who moderated the session entitled Partnerships for a better future. “The plant breeding innovations were easy, it focused on big farmers on land that was well irrigated and well managed.”
Each panelist was asked to identify one partnership that could serve as an example for a successful partnership.
For Tang Huajun, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), international and national partnerships and cross-sectoral collaboration with universities, farmers, and extension officers were critically important to China’s ability to feed over 1 billion people. CAAS currently has partnerships with 140 countries, involving thousands of researchers from Chinese and international research institutions around the world.
“We can feed our people because of these collaborations,” he said.
Huajun, Ann Tuttwieller of USDA, and Dr. Laurence Tubiana of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs also highlighted the need for greater internal alignment to improve coordination and collaboration and foster a sense of common purpose and “trust” across agencies.
In summary, Sir Gordon highlighted several themes that emerged from the discussion.
1. Focus on problems, not programs.
2. Focus on partnerships that bring people together and relate to the needs of stakeholders.
3. Breakdown silos between research disciplines.
“Its isn’t easy because silos are comfortable, but if you can make working together exciting, then it will open a lot of doors for communication between one silo and another,” he closed.