Journalists say more capacity building needed to improve agric. reporting

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Agricultural journalists who were trained under The Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC) The Gambia and Danish Food and Agricultural Journalists (DFAJ) 18 months agricultural training project, have said there is need for more such capacity building for them to help improve agriculture reporting in the country.

From November 2015 to May 2017, the project trained 24 agricultural reporters from ten community and three commercial radio stations in the country, targeted to empower them and farmers by means of better agricultural journalism.

Bakary Manneh alias Big Sam, deputy manager of Brikama Community Radio said the eighteen months training have improved a lot in their radio station as it enables them to maintain consistency in their agricultural programs. “It has even encouraged our agriculture reporter to host the programme twice a week. It has also exposed him to agricultural reporting techniques, editing and news angling.”

He said their radio has not being able to maintain consistency in their agriculture program before the NAC training but now it is given constant programme that is well appreciated by farmers and the community.

Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC), The Gambia, was established in 2009 under the name ‘The Agricultural Voice’. At the beginning of 2012, the name was changed to ‘Network of Agricultural Communicators’ (NAC), The Gambia. This is to allow non-practicing journalists such as communicators, to become members.

Agriculture is the most important sector in The Gambian economy and one of the priority areas of development, particularly in the new global climate of price escalation on staple food items and oil. All agricultural goods entering the national territory enter free of charge.

Generally, Gambian agriculture has been characterized by subsistence production of food crops, comprising cereals (early millet, late millet, maize, sorghum, rice), semi intensive cash crop production (groundnut, cotton, sesame and horticulture). Farmers generally practice mixed farming, although crops accounts for a greater portion of the production.

The agricultural sector is characterized by little diversification, mainly subsistence rain-fed agriculture with a food self-sufficiency ration of about 50%. The crops sub-sector generates approximately 40% of the foreign exchange earnings and provides about 75% of total household income. The crop-sub-sector employs 70 percent of the labour force, and accounts for 33% of GDP of the country.

 Modou Touray, the agriculture anchor at Brikama Community Radio who was the best student of the 18-month project said the training has enabled him to produce his own magazine and documentaries. “It also enabled me to package research programs, introduction and also how to angle the production.”

He said it would have been good  if other  necessary equipment for the training were provided, saying although computers and recorders were provided by NAC but it is also important to have other areas like digital cameras and video because there were other journalist who were trained in video production.

Mr. Touray appealed to NAC and partners to continue building their capacity in agricultural reporting which, he said will help improve farmers understanding of the modern trends and development in the agricultural sector and subsequently improve food production.

Author: Seedy Darboe