FullSizeRenderOn 31 October 2017, the APPG hosted the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Gilbert Houngbo. A former Prime Minister of Togo, Mr Houngbo took over from Kanayo Nwanze earlier this year.

In his speech - "IFAD: Enabling rural communities to step up to the SDGs" - Mr Houngbo pointed out that rural people make up 40% of the world's population, but account for 75% of the poorest and hungriest. And it's in the most rural areas that you'll find IFAD doing its work, he said.

"When you drive out of the cities, first you'll go past the embassies. A bit further out you'll find the NGOs. And when you're really far out, that's where you'll find IFAD."

It's in these rural areas that poverty is concentrated, and that's where the agency's efforts must be focused, he said.

"They are predominantly smallholders, and they are also the catalyst for economic growth."

Houngbo emphasised that Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) remains crucial, but that it must be deployed in a way that helps smallholders unlock their own business sense.

"ODA is essential but not enough," he said. "It's a launching pad. Development must come from within countries themselves. And rural areas is where it starts, with smallholders using agriculture as a means to a decent life. It's mind boggling to me when rural transformation is not placed at the centre of development policy."

The talk was attended by Parliamentarians including Lord Trees, Jeremy Lefroy MP and Lord Bates, Minister of State at DFID. 

SciDevNet interviewed Gilbert Houngbo after the event and its Q&A is published here.