In the aftermath of the World Congress on Agroforestry in New Delhi, Ekaterina Bessonova, of the SEI-hosted Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI), reflects on the viability of public-private partnerships as a means to scaling up agroforestry strategies and improving rural livelihoods:

A great deal of the World Congress on Agroforestry, held last week in New Delhi, focused on business: How to link smallholders to markets? How to make agroforestry profitable? How to engage major corporations? How to guarantee social and environmental sustainability while making money? […]

A consistent message was that farmers can’t do it alone, especially if they’re also growing food for their families. Building successful agroforestry systems, requires scientific expertise, business savvy and access to markets, robust policies and infrastructure, and NGO support to advocate for farmers and help with training and facilitation. It’s a team effort, and it takes a lot of resources.

Can public-private partnerships help bring these elements together, especially at a larger scale?

PPPs have been widely used in development to attract private-sector investment, reduce financial costs for governments, and bring in tools and expertise from the business world. Already, there are several prominent examples in agroforestry, such as the SUCCESS Alliance  to promote sustainable cocoa enterprises, and there is a growing interest in using PPPs to improve food security and rural livelihoods. Given that agroforestry projects often require long-term investments in planting trees, PPPs are particularly appealing as a way to reduce the financial risks for farmers.

Source: SIANI blog, Sweden