Sunday, April 2, 2017

Africa Forum: Journalists Find Solutions to Challenges Facing Agric Journalism

One of the most important tools we can use to improve agriculture is to invest in young people - IFAJ President Owen Roberts (Photo Credit: M.S.Joof/TNBES/April 2).

By Modou S. Joof, Pretoria, South Africa

Sixty journalists from Africa and around the world on Sunday met at the Leriba near Pretoria, South Africa to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing agricultural journalists in Africa as they help farmers succeed.

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Africa Forum also looked into possible solutions to the challenges that African journalists face and what has to be done to advance information transfer to farmers.

Sunday’s forum, a side event of the 2017 IFAJ World Congress holding in Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa, noted that in order to create a positive revolution in the agriculture sector, journalists must be able to send out positive messages to the farmers - the gate keepers of societies. 

Improve agriculture in Africa

IFAJ President, Owen Roberts, said the Africa forum was encouraged by the growing needs and necessities to improve agriculture in Africa.

“IFAJ has a clear mandate and finds that one of the most important tools we can use to improve agriculture is to invest in young people,” he said.

Speaking from an agriculture industry perspective, Kinyua M’Mbijjewe, head of corporate affairs at Syngenta Africa, said agriculture is the single biggest opportunity in Africa for economic growth.

“Africa has real opportunity for agricultural growth, with its huge arable land,” he said.

Syngenta is present in 90 countries and is said to be a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security. Kinyua said Africa can steadily grow in food production when institutions and journalists help farmers to unleash their potentials.

“The African home narratives are to embrace partnership,” he said.

Encourage youth participation

Theo De Jager of the Pan-African Farmers Organisation said African farmers have made a serious leap-jump in the agriculture sector in the past decades.

“It is important that a similar paradigm shift happen among journalists. The world sees agriculture through your eyes,” he said when speaking on agricultural journalism in Africa.

“You must make it attractive and encourage youth participation in agriculture,” de Jager said on April 2.

Scott Angle of the International Fertilizer Development Centre, said he believes that the proper message is still not reaching the young people to encourage them participate in agricultural production and productivity.

“The average African farmer access only 10% of the needed fertilizer. If we stop using fertilizer today, the yield would go down by 50 percent,” he said when speaking on challenges and opportunities for journalists to advance information transfer to farmers.

Key among the participants of the forum are journalists from Burundi, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Kenya, Togo, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia.

Journalists from Europe, Australia and Asia and the participants of the 2017 IFAJ and DuPont Pioneer Master Class and the IFAJ and Alltech Young Leaders also took part in the Africa Forum.

They suggested that regular agriculture education for journalists can also be a driving force to spike development of the sector.

The IFAJ’s global congress opens on Monday at Kievitskroon in Pretoria and will go through 8th April.

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