Breakfast with Sir Gordon Conway: learning about the genesis of participatory rural appraisal

IFAD's Conference on New Directions for Smallholder Agriculture brought together numerous leading development actors. One among them is Sir Gordon Conway.

Last night, I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation by Sir Gordon. What struck me was how he managed to convey complex concepts in such a natural way. And this was because he actually told us a story - another example of the power and potential of story telling. Maybe next time, anyone out there decides to do a powerpoint presentation, they can at least try and give it a nice plot and actually TELL the story, rather than reading the slides!

This morning, I decided to be bold and ask Sir Gordon whether he would agree to do a short interview. It was a privilege and an honour to have this short conversation with him.

In less than 4 minutes he:
  • shared an important piece of rural development history: the genesis of participatory rural appraisal 
  • complimented IFAD for doing analytical work which is grounded in farmer's realities and challenged us to boil down the messages of comprehensive approach to smallholder development emerging from the  Rural Poverty Report 2011 to simple messages so that the people can understand and act upon them
  • challenged IFAD to do more on climate change and to take the lead on climate change and agriculture
  • shared his optimism on future of agriculture by saying that smallholder farmers in developing countries can feed the world and ensure food security. What we need to do is to use the available the technology and link farmers with markets and the outside world