No single organization can do everything to be successful and innovative. While IRRI is at the forefront of boosting rice productivity globally, there is an alarming challenge of producing nutritious and high quality rice in an increasingly scarce resource. The complex situation of poverty and food security calls for more strategic research for development initiatives that is reinforced through public and private sector collaborations.
During the IRRI Science Week, IRRI scientists and staff gathered to discuss the challenges and key drivers in public-private partnerships that will help the institute widen its global impact. IRRI, as an honest broker in rice, continues to engage with global research for development partners. Private companies are an important component of such partnerships. More importantly, public- private partnership creates synergy among different actors that enables taking technologies to farmers’ fields, so everyone can reap the best returns.
While engaging with national partners is one of IRRI’s key expertise, it is also important to tap other non- –traditional partners, i.e. private institutions or food companies that have a corporate social responsibility arm aligned to the institute’s mission. Presenters highlighted productive partnerships that IRRI is already engaged in. These included rice germplasm sharing, identification and characterization of agronomically important genes, improvement of geological information systems for rice, improved agronomic practices such as direct seeding and post harvest technologies and mechanization equipments. lessons and insights were shared in scaling rice research for impact.Trust among all the players, a clear value proposition for each sector, productive negotiations, investment in relationship, and transparency of expectations and ownership are the crucial factors that drive and sustain partnerships.
IRRI’s Director General Matthew Morrell emphasized that engaging with private sectors and partners is about sharing information, connectivity, and scaling impact. A facilitated discussion by Ajay Kohli, Strategic Innovation platform leader, elicited feedback from IRRI scientists on how to strengthen partnerships that will bring IRRI’s current initiatives to a wider scale, while partnerships in research in development may bring funding incentives to strengthen research for development initiatives and create more meaningful engagement with private sector.