Public-Private Collaborations: Can they Deliver Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies?

Published on 1 September 2017

This paper looks at the role of public-private collaborations, specifically public-private partnerships (PPPs), in enabling secure and inclusive rural economies.

Since the development literature has firmly established the role of PPPs as a policy instrument to incentivise more inclusiveness for the poor in agricultural value chains, we review the evidence available to understand the specific constraints and barriers that smallholder farmers face, in particular in conflict-affected areas where the challenges are more visible. Our review highlights four enablers that support inclusion in agricultural value chains, and which may be the focus of policy interventions: infrastructure, formal and informal market coordination that overcome failures in imperfect information and transaction costs, efforts to support informal institutions such as trust and reputation, and collective action that enables groups to build social capital. PPPs commonly address some elements of these four enablers, particularly those which are closely linked to market objectives: farmer access to information, finance and technology, and the formation of producer organisations. However, there are only scattered examples of governments effectively identifying leverage points to address other critical elements, such as building social capital or effective market coordination arrangements that widen rather than limit inclusion and ensure that producers gain from market participation.

Future research needs to better disaggregate different forms of public-private collaboration, how these balance more public aims with more market-oriented objectives, and their potential to support more transformative processes of rural development. Particular attention needs to be paid to regions where the structure of the economy and social relations have been affected by conflict, with implications for both the leverage points and timelines for change.

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