Designing country partnerships
In this first of a three-part series, Grow Asia shares the phases of development in a successful Country Partnership
To date, Grow Asia has catalyzed and supports five Country Partnerships, which are led and guided by local leaders from government, the private sector, and civil society. Partners in-country collaborate through Working Groups that co-design, co-implement, and co-fund value chain initiatives that benefit smallholder farmers.
Whilst the creation and development of a Country Partnership is never a linear process, Grow Asia has found there to be three key phases that a partnership goes through. The first, which we will address in this short article, is the ‘Design’ phase. This is then followed by the ‘Strengthen’ phase which ultimately leads to a ‘Scale’ phase.
Phase one: Design
In the ‘Design’ phase, it is critical to determine areas of focus for each of the different Working Groups. In doing this, the Grow Asia Secretariat consults and aligns with the national agricultural agenda and engages business partners to ensure that Working Groups focus on those value chains that offer smallholder farmers a potential market. By aligning with both government and private sector objectives in the ‘Design’ phase of a partnership, Grow Asia seeks to create an environment in which participation not only supports agriculture development, but also can advance partners’ individual objectives. This model serves to promote commercially sustainable projects that strengthen the entire supply chain.
Grow Asia’s five current Country Partnerships are at different phases reflective of the time when they were launched; the local context; the strength of the private sector; and the enabling environment. The Philippines Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA) and the Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (CPSA) are the newest and still within the ‘Design’ phase. Despite being the newest partnerships, both the CPSA and the PPSA have already made excellent progress. Through discussing and assessing the challenges facing the agriculture sector, the Working Groups have already found certain issues do cut across the different crops, such access to training and inputs for smallholders. For the partnership to now transition to the ‘Strengthen’ phase, strong governance will need to be established and this is best implemented by an established, local secretariat that sits within the partnership country.
Whilst Grow Asia can be heavily involved in the ‘Design’ phase of a partnership, for Country Partnerships to move into the next phases of ‘Strengthen’ and ‘Scale’, strong local leadership from governments, companies and a local secretariat is critical. The next article in this series will explore the characteristics of the ‘Strengthen’ phase and why it is crucial for a Country Partnership.
Jenny Costelloe Director, Country Partnerships, Grow Asia firstname.lastname@example.org