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From left: Christoph Neumann (CropLife Intl), Paul Winters (IFAD), Nick Perkins (CABI), Tin Htut (MoALF, Myanmar). Washington Otieno (CABI). Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

Peace, partnerships, projects, production, perspectives, participation and passion to name just a few. These were all squeezed into a side event at CFS44, organised by CABI, entitled ‘How Cross-Sectoral Partnerships Help Smallholders Deliver a More Food Secure Future‘.

Speakers at the event included Dr. Christoph Neumann, Director of International Regulatory Affairs Crop Protection at CropLife International; Dr. Paul Winters, Associate Vice-President Strategy and Knowledge Department and Director, Research and Impact Assessment Division at IFAD; Dr. Tin Htut, Permanent Secretary at the Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation; and Dr.Washington Otieno, Programme Executive for CABI’s Plantwise programme.
Partnerships in any walk of life rely on information exchange and trust between people. It is no different for supporting farmers to grow more and lose less.
A real world example of a pepper farmer in China dealing with crop pests demonstrates the value of partnerships. Ma Jixiang from Zhongtun village notices that his plants looked ‘listless’. He is very concerned for his family as the crop provides their main income, covering his daughter’s university tuition fees. Looking for a solution he attends a mobile Plantwise plant clinic.
The CABI-led Plantwise programme, with its 2,300 plant clinics run by trained plant doctors, helps smallholders to diagnose and manage crop pests.
At the clinic Gu Peiyun, a plant doctor, carefully checks the leaves Jixiang had brought. Gu explained to Jixiang that thrip insects were the ‘chief culprit’, which is why no matter how much fungicide he used, it had not worked. After adopting an integrated pest management system prescribed by the plant doctor Jixiang saw his yields rise and family income increase by US$2,900.
Although he may not have realised it at the time Jixiang became a partner in a cross-sectoral programme. Plantwise engages with farmer organisations NGO’s, private sector, research institutes, and governments to develop crop health strategies and food security benefits at the local, national and regional levels.
Acknowledging the complexity of partnerships during the CFS44 side event, the moderator Nick Perkins equated partnerships to dark matter, saying “we all know they’re out there but we’re not sure what they are…” Are partnerships ‘dark’? You decide, but they most definitely matter.

Working together has always underpinned human progress in accomplishing shared goals – from domesticating the first crops and livestock, the bedrock of our civilisation, to placing a man on the moon. By putting our heads together we have achieved great things. Ensuring food is accessible and nutritious for all in a 2050 world of 9.7 billion mouths to feed could be our greatest achievement yet.
Of all the words beginning with ‘p’ at the event, the one that resonated with me most was ‘prosperity’. If we do more to bring different people and their expertise together through partnerships a prosperous world free of hunger and malnutrition is possible.
This article is part of a series of blogs covering CFS44 in Rome this week. Subscribe to the Plantwise blog now and never miss an update. 

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