We found that the stakeholders’ understanding of trust and its elements informs the perspective with which they identify the challenges and practices of trust building and the expected outcomes. According to our interviewees, factors that contribute to the success of PPPs include capability (technical competence and ability to follow the law); enthusiasm to succeed; access to finances; strong leadership; qualified personnel; and appropriate agreements with other partners. The interviewees further pointed out that, aside from these factors, there were no special practices intended to build trust.
VIRCA partners’ understanding of trust
The interviewees understood trust to be an important aspect of a relationship [between parties] that allows them to develop confidence in each other. For example, an interviewee from NARO explained that trust is what binds partners together. Further, interviewees said building trust requires time, in order for partners to understand each other’s roles and expectations. One interviewee described a form of ‘competence trust’: trust is based on the kind of outcomes of the activities in which the partners are engaged. According to an interviewee from NARO, competence was evident during initial efforts in organizing the project when NARO’s historical successes (outcomes) in breeding cassava for virus resistance were recognized by DDPSC. Other elements of trust identified by the interviewees include mutual respect for partner roles, sincerity and transparency.
Negative perceptions about African scientists and institutions
NARO expressed concerns about attitudes at DDPSC regarding the integrity and capacity of African scientists and institutions to undertake the VIRCA project. According to NARO, the perceptions pertained to the corruption that bedevils many African governments. According to an interviewee from NARO, DDPSC scientists believed that they had “not seen Africa using facilities given to them; they [the facilities] bec[a]me white elephants.” From the perspective of the scientists at NARO, these perceptions elicited monitoring by DDPSC scientists, which conveyed a sense of paternalism and inequality against NARO and KARI, thereby threatening trust building among the partners.
However, some documented facts give DDPSC’s perception some credence. A feature appearing in The New African in 2009c quoted a Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) official in Uganda saying, “a government in power will always use the money [development aid] as they wish. There is nothing stopping them to use it as they wish.” This statement was made in reference to the Ugandan government’s diverting of SIDA aid to the war against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda instead of supporting the running of rural medical clinics, which later had to be closed.
DDPSC argued that their perception stemmed from underlying cultural differences between the partners, which made them cautious and curious about partners’ actions. Unlike the DDPSC, however, the public in Kenya and Uganda have expressed their trust in the stewardship of KARI and NARO respectively, as was claimed by an interviewee from KARI. Over time, DDPSC became convinced by the work ethics of the African team members and was able to have more confidence in them.
Low emphasis on communication and community engagement
Interviewees reported a skewed emphasis in favor of the product development component at the expense of other components (such as regulatory, communication and outreach) and said the teams are not moving in tandem. This unequal emphasis on the project component was likely to introduce discontent among team members. They listed the positive results that would ensue if all the teams were brought on board together at the same time and moved consistently together in terms of information sharing and capacity building. This would contribute to enhanced team spirit, trust (between the teams), and productivity in the next phase of the project.
An interviewee from KARI stated that trust between the project and the community is “poor” and that farmers do not know much about the VIRCA project. According to Hawkins , there is a lack of accurate information among farmers in Africa due to the traditional research model, in which research works for, rather than with, farmers; this implies a situation in which farmers are not partners in the process of identifying problems and their solutions, which may, as a result, render such solutions innapropriate. An interviewee from DDPSC linked farmers’ apparent lack of trust in the performance of biotechnology to their lack of background knowledge that would enable them to form their own opinions. There is therefore a need for creating awareness on the nature and performance of GM crops.
Slow regulatory processes in the implementing countries
Although Kenya’s legal framework and experience in genetic modification work allowed it to engage with DDPSC before Uganda, Uganda gradually overtook Kenya in terms of implementing the project. The slow pace of the implementation of the project in Kenya was due to delayed regulatory processes, which contributed to deteriorating trust between KARI and DDPSC, as the latter interpreted the slowness as reluctance on the former’s side. On the other hand, KARI stated that DDPSC did not readily provide the information necessary for regulatory approvals and therefore argued that DDPSC was to blame for the delay. According to one interviewee, this led DDPSC to threaten withdrawing their support for KARI, who, as a result, felt that DDPSC had less trust in them than they had in NARO.
NARO also underwent instances of delayed regulatory processes, as observed by DDPSC. NARO, however, argued that the delays were due to biological challenges and reorganization within the regulatory institutions. Midway through the first phase of the project, the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and National Biosafety Committee (NBC) in Uganda, the key regulatory institutions on biosafety, underwent changes in management. This meant that the new team needed to learn how the committees operate, which therefore led to the delays. At the same time, the VIRCA project initially solely targeted CMD. It was later on that CBSD, to which varieties already resistant to CMD were highly susceptible, re-emerged. This necessitated the project to adopt a new objective focusing on the development of CBSD-resistant varieties that was originally not considered.
Investors of agbiotech in Africa consider regulatory processes to be slow and at costs not commensurate to the market size  because of limited capacity on the part of government and scientists, which tends to paralyze decision making. Though the speed of regulatory approvals in both Uganda and Kenya improved as the regulators became more confident in the applicants, the delays demanded the deadline for product delivery to be extended – from 2013 to 2015.
Perceptions of differential funding for Uganda and Kenya
Because of the different paces in project implementation in Kenya and Uganda, DDPSC stated that its relationship with KARI had not matured, as it did with NARO, and that the former was not delivering the same kinds of results as the latter had been. One interviewee explained that the progress of the projects is influenced by the way in which funding is channeled to the African partners: while the activities in Uganda [NARO] are funded by the Monsanto Fund and the Danforth Centre, all the activities in Kenya [KARI] are funded by USAID. There were perceptions that, whereas Kenya received piecemeal funding for no more than one year at a time, Uganda received cash for a whole five-year phase. This means that the activities in Uganda ran uninterrupted, while those in Kenya experienced frequent and long intervals in which there was no work. The interviewee interpreted such differential funding as preferential treatment in favor of NARO and felt that KARI received less financial support and training opportunities than their Ugandan counterparts.
Interviewees identified several practices that contributed to enhancing trust among the partners in the project and with the community. Open and regular communication among the partners was the most talked about practice. One interviewee pointed out that there were no special exercises put in place specifically to foster trust; rather, trust was a result of the established management practices.
Regular exchange visits by the partners
An interviewee from NARO said that regular exchange visits among partners boosted trust in the partnership. The visiting partners were exposed to the ongoing project activities at laboratory and field levels and had the opportunity to present seminars about the project to the wider community in partner institutions, thus creating awareness of the project. Exchange visits between KARI and NARO were also opportunities for sharing germplasm and facilities such as greenhouses for experiments.
One interviewee from KARI recognized a direct connection among the visits, technical competence, and trust. He said the visits improved mutual understanding and trust between KARI and DDPSC, while making them more competent to talk about VIRCA. This in turn led to the achievement of project milestones and enhanced trust among partners. Another interviewee from KARI underscored the need to include the members in top management of the partner institutions and regulatory organizations in the exchange visits. He observed that this will give them an opportunity to appreciate the benefits of the project, therefore leading to enhanced trust institution-wide. Spielman, Hartwich and Grebmer  observed that PPPs could achieve greater success with face-to-face interaction, hands-on collaboration and scientific exchange programmes. The visits contributed to trust building as they provided the partners a forum in which to mingle with stakeholders and get their feel of the project.
Training of scientists and other technical staff
Before returning home as highly skilled people, the scientists being trained at DDPSC received exposure to extended periods of interaction with DDPSC staff during which they built trust with one another. This training was well received at home and was, according to an interviewee from NARO, one of the “key things that happened ...without [the need for] paying fees.” We observe that the technical competence acquired was an important ingredient for trust building amid myths about biotechnology and its efficacy.
In addition, an interviewee from DDPSC recommended closer private sector involvement to complement public sector competence, especially on regulatory matters. He noted that successful commercialization of technologies from research all over the world has been associated with active involvement of the private sector in the implementation of projects. With this kind of involvement, the trained scientists are likely to benefit from unique private sector expertise and experience with the regulatory aspects, which will enhance the former’s ability to comply with the law. Ultimately, this will improve trust between the partners and regulators.
Open and regular communication between the partners
Open communication was achieved by involving the partners in the initial setting of project goals; holding bi-weekly teleconferences; having face-to-face interactions; and regularly reporting on project activities. These procedures provided an opportunity for sharing information and having open discussions in which partners could provide feedback to one another – all of which helped resolve any issues that could potentially arise, thus creating positive group dynamics conducive to building trust. At the same time, bi-annual and annual financial and technical reports were regularly shared among the stakeholders, which helped enhance trust among the partners.
One interviewee, however, pointed out that trust among the VIRCA partners was not very high, due to some shortcomings – notably, the lack of knowledge of the kind of agreement DDPSC had with NARO and lack of an agreement between NARO and KARI. This suggests that the flow of information may not have been all-round, which, as observed by one interviewee, may be counterproductive to trust building particularly with regards to product sharing between the two African countries. Hall  recommends that in order for PPPs in agricultural systems to realize full potential, new ways are needed to break down barriers and increase communication and trust between the public and the private sector partners.
Clear definition of roles and responsibilities
VIRCA partners had well-defined roles so each partner was held accountable for the outcomes. Appropriate assignment of roles and responsibilities is helpful in dealing with cases of internal conflict among partners . VIRCA partners recognized this early and therefore entered into a memorandum of understanding before the project started, according to an interviewee from NARO. One interviewee partly attributed the high level of trust and accountability among the partners to documents, reports, and agreed upon responsibilities and expectations. The clear definition of roles and expectations served as a foundation for building trust.
Interviewees emphasized the need for, and importance of, drafting a detailed agreement immediately upon commencement of the project that stipulates the individual partners’ contributions; roles; ownership; and use of intellectual property rights (IPRs). The agreement should clearly convey if a company’s IPRs are being licensed royalty-free, for example. Such an agreement is necessary in order to prevent challenges midway through the project, as witnessed in the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) project in Kenya, which was a research-only license .
Institutional and individual commitment to succeed
One interviewee from DDPSC said: All the people working on the project really need to put intensive effort into making sure that it is going correctly. Choosing staff with excellent academic and scientific credentials and personal interest in the success of the project was recognized as a great asset to the VIRCA project. These are people who, even when other attractive opportunities arise, would give VIRCA priority, while recognizing that transitions would likely slow the project’s progress.
The partner organizations comprising the VIRCA project were recognized as committed to the project and did not treat it as a peripheral activity. Such institutional support helped spur individual scientists to commit to achieving sustainability and positive outcomes. The enthusiasm of scientists from NARO to the highest level of management endeared them to DDPSC. On the other hand, Kenya’s [KARI’s] apparent reluctance to engage with DDPSC may have led to a “bumpy” relationship, particularly in the early stages of the partnership, according to an interviewee from DDPSC.