3 tips for agricultural development leaders from Sir Gordon Conway

Sir Gordon Conway, who runs Agriculture for Impact. Photo by: Annibale Greco / Food and Agriculture Organization

To tackle hunger in Africa, leaders need to learn how to better deliver their messages to stakeholders and the general public. They must also shed some institutional ego to create more effective partnerships in the field, while at the same time rethinking the role of gender in rural development.

Those were the key messages imparted to the top brass of the agricultural development community by Sir Gordon Conway, a leading figure in that world for about half a century, during an exclusive interview with Devex in Paris.

At a point in his life when many people might prefer to tend to their backyard gardens, Conway has embarked on a new intercontinental mission. For years he maintained his status as a top agricultural development scholar while helping to run high-profile organizations, including stints as president of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Royal Geographical Society.

“These days I’m no longer an administrator. I’m no longer a researcher, though I’ve been all those things in my life,” he told an audience in Paris at the “Closing the Gender Gap in Farming Under Climate Change” conference sponsored by a coalition of groups spearheaded by CGIAR, an international consortium of agricultural research organizations. “I’m much more an advocate, because that’s what the Gates Foundation pays me to do.”

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About the author

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    Bill Hinchberger

    Bill Hinchberger is a global communications professional and educator. He studied at Berkeley and has taught at the Sorbonne. Based mostly in Paris, he spends quality time in Brazil and the United States, and works extensively in Africa and Latin America. He has served as an international correspondent for The Financial Times, Business Week, ARTnews, Variety, and others. One current focus of his work is content creation for foundations, NGOs and other organizations, especially those working on issues related to international affairs, the environment and development. He also runs training programs for professional journalists, notably in Africa, and is an associate of Rain Barrel Communications, a leading consultancy for social justice projects.