Fairtrade Foundation finds some PPPs exacerbate farmer poverty

The Fairtrade Foundation has published a study revealing that some agricultural public-private partnerships (PPPs) in Africa appear to prioritise commercial interests while ignoring the needs of the farmers they claim to help. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, Governments and NGOs are increasingly partnering with the private sector to tackle global hunger and poverty, but some are doing more harm than good. “Agricultural PPPs could have the potential to improve lives, productivity and increase market access for communities,” said Barbara Crowther, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Fairtrade Foundation. “But there is a real danger that by allowing commercial interests to determine the direction of PPPs, the voice of smallholder farmers is not currently being heard and their genuine needs are being neglected.” Fairtrade’s study A seat at the table? examines PPPs in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya, and reports examples of them failing to engage effectively with smallholder farmers. The study found PPP’s were making assumptions about farmers’ needs while ignoring or overlooking their actual concerns and priorities, and treating farmers as beneficiaries rather than as equal partners. According to Fairtrade, the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project, a US $145 million project involving the Government of Ghana, World Bank and USAID, aims to increase productivity of smallholder farmers in the Accra Plains and SADA region, yet there had been just one occasion, in 2011, when smallholder farmers had an opportunity to express their views about it. Fairtrade says the project takes a demand-driven approach, so funds are allocated according to private sector applications rather than an assessment of farmers’ needs. “Governments and international development partners must do more to ensure that smallholder farmers can play an active role in the design and development of agricultural PPPs – or there is a risk that far from eradicating poverty, they could actually aggravate social and economic inequalities, create civil unrest and even exacerbate poverty,” said Crowther, in a statement. The Fairtrade Foundation has reported that it is sharing its findings with government, parliamentarians, business leaders and NGOs, and urging them to adopt a number of recommendations for agricultural PPPs.

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