“Making e-Agriculture Work through Public Private Partnership in Asia” a panel discussion.
At eIndia yesterday, partners in the global e-Agriculture initiative came together to continue the discussion about the role of public private partnerships (PPP) in supporting e-agriculture. (Building on the March 2008 online forum on www.e-agriculture.org.)
I’m very pleased that we were successful in creating a lively audience-focused discussion, anchored by four experienced panelists. During the 90 minute period we identified the need to move from a focus on PPP to a more inclusive “multi-stakeholder partnerships” (MSP). The importance of MSP was further supported with examples of the important roles that could be played by stakeholders from government, the private sector, NGOs, farmers, intermediaries, and others.
The complexity of this form of relationship has great potential for advancing the use of ICT to support sustainable rural development. Success depends on merging the different agendas of each stakeholder in complementary ways, finding complementary competencies, and recognizing the professional integrity and incentives of all participants.
In addition to the critical issues identified in the online forum (which are summarized in a two page policy brief), the discussion added the critical role of addressing organizational issues from the beginning of the programme, in order to assure sustainability and maximizing benefits.
These are the organizational management issues that I continue to find are key to most ICT4D projects. This very issue had been emphasized earlier in the day by the presentation of Dr. Sapna Narula, Assistant Professor at the University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.
The importance of delivering user-focused, demand driven content was re-emphasized, as well as the need to not only continue documenting successful cases of MSP supporting e-agriculture, but to develop from these cases a comprehensive set of business models for implementation.
Finally, it was recommended that the next forum should focus on in country interventions, with clear objectives of defining pilot and proof of concept projects, clearly defining the focus of part of my own work in the coming months.