Fish (and chips) bowl on PPPP(PP)

The APR Day 3 afternoon fishbowl on public, private, people partnership (PPPP) was a lively affair. About 15-20 people participated in what was coined a "fish and chips" event.

Mattia started us off with his experience as CPM in India. PPPP are a common feature of their work and multi-stakeholder workshops are a constant feature of design in their country strategy. They realized they need multiple partners, actors with different visions. The idea is to reach a level of mutual respect and find comparative advantage. The two main components are community institutional building and livelihood production and marketing. He said we should even talk of PPPPP, adding the pro-poor dimension.

But there exists a lack of trust between the community and private sector, as well as the government and private sector. "The beauty of the exercice", says Mattia, "is that it brings to the table cats and dogs and they come up with common objectives together. This ensures ownership at all levels". He believes IFAD's role is to be there with good intention without forcing dialogue, to be an honest broker and try to find win-wins, while identifying what the different obligations of each players are.

Atsuko provided the second fishbowl intervention, stating that in Vietnam, PPP are useful in terms of sustainability and services (value chain analysis and action plan, credit, incentive funds, extension, implement arrangements - market demands, etc.), They talked to a lot of companies, with IFAD interventions addressing the needs of private sector and identified which are good to work with. But she is not as strong believer in conversion on common objectives as Mattia is. They both agree that project management is key and that managers are bureaucrats, ill-equipped to work with the private sector. As Mattia says, "we lend to governments, we have no experience in dealing with private sector... this set of rules is difficult to break". We should also talk of the "corporate" sector when talking of the business world, as private sector also includes foundations and trusts.

A succession of fishes swam into the bowl and provided their insights:
  • Thomas E: not all people or public is good and the private sector not formally bad. He likes the idea of the value chain ladder, develop enough evidence, the rules of the game and keep open for private sector to engage. Different areas need different strategies
  • Daniel: his experience with the private sector in India was as a partner with one of villages. He found that bigger industries are willing to come if the environment is good and the infrastructure is there. They brought in more partners so the risk is less. They contributed money for capacity building
  • Frank (UNIDO): he finds it hard to understand IFAD logic as to why is the corporate sector is bad. We don't have the same interests and they talk a different language. But the farmer's interest is having income and that space can be shared - and be the basis - for partnerships need
  • Beria: another dimension is the social dynamic of peers. In Indonesia, since the rubber quality is low, a tire company sought to improve quality of the rubber by enhancing farmer knowledge. The company said farmer could start selling directly to them, which was interesting as it increased investment, but created social conflict since the farmers had good relationships with the middlemen
  • Roy (Ghana): business partnership should be in project design, both public and private goods and the infrastructure should be based where growth is needed
  • Tung: people belong to the "private" dimension, our job (IFAD) is to develop common interest and linkages
  • Hua (Proj Dir. Vietnam): our government gives subsidies to the public sector but does not trust the private sector. We have conducted fairs.
  • Andi (Mars Inc): we conducted a forum on cocoa where PPPP sit together with a goal of transfer technology and farmer empowerment. So what's in it for the private sector? Lot of effort but aiming for the long-term sustainability of cocoa. The forum also aligns messages sent to farmers so they are not confused
  • Frank (UNIDO): a forum is a nice platform or incubator. In Colombia, we meet every month or two months, one for each for each commodity. There should be input from the the buyer to improve products; they are the ones we should be talking to, not the corporate social responsibility people
  • Ganesh: there is a blurring of people and private. We should think of service delivery, public, private and farmers organizations, a polycentric approach
  • Chitra: at the Davos forum they are talking of public, private and civil society, which means IFAD has no role in this. But what is the interest and what do they bring? We need to have definitions. Also, can the private sector be driving/leading food security?
  • Thomas E: the private sector is investing heavily in CGIAR. They can invest where they like, IFAD can be a broker