Building trust in agrobiotechnology public-private partnerships

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The role of agricultural biotechnology may be key to enabling food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Following a number of food shortages and volatility in food pricing, ensuring agricultural supply meets demand is of crucial importance. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) may provide a useful way to inject investment from private funders into public sector initiatives for the good of local people and society.

However, there has been much resistance to adoption of these schemes in many regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in relation to GM crops. The McGloughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health has spent five years undertaking research into the causes of public participation failure in these PPPs. They found that a lack of trust underlies one of the most critical challenges to the development of agro-biotechnology projects by PPPs.

New research into PPPs is published today in Agriculture and Food Security as a supplement:  Fostering innovation through building trust: lessons from agricultural biotechnology partnerships in Africa. Guest edited by Calestous Juma, this series of research articles highlights the importance of establishing trust between the public, government and research institutions in introducing agricultural biotechnology in sub-Saharan Africa. In eight research articles, the authors explore the role that trust can play in establishing PPPs. They outline effective practices to foster trust in these schemes and provide examples of successful schemes where this issue has been overcome.

In his introductory article, Calestous Juma outlines the purpose and mission of this research and the importance of the findings included in the supplement. This series serves as a much needed guide to establishing a relationship of trust required for building effective agricultural innovation systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.