Africa needs the media to make it understand the importance of agriculture

The African Union (AU) has been commemorating 2014 as the ‘Year of Agriculture and Food Security’.  This is to give farmingopportunities to communities, state and non-state actors to interact, express their voices on what works and chart the focus and targets for the next decade.

These engagements are expected to contribute towards setting the agenda for sustaining the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) momentum, which forms the basis for African leaders to recommit themselves to realizing the original vision set out in 2003.

CAADP is the African Union-NEPAD long-term framework to improve food security, nutrition and increase incomes in Africa’s largely farming based economies.

Since its adoption by African countries in 2003, over 40 countries are now actively engaged in CAADP at different levels. A decade of CAADP experience has demonstrated that Africa has a well-crafted, home-grown framework guiding policies, strategies and actions for agricultural development and transformation.

But sustaining the CAADP momentum requires the media in Africa to give more attention to the agricultural sector to advance economic growth.

In Nairobi, Kenya, radio journalists from 14 countries met in August 2014 to explore avenues and practical action to improve the use of radio as the channel to reach local communities with information on agriculture and development, in the context CAADP.

Participating journalists maintained that the media, especially radio, remains an important instrument to communicate and facilitate dialogue on agriculture.

Radio, they noted, also remains indispensable as a medium for sharing best practices, as well as raising awareness on key issues in advancing agriculture and development.

A facilitator at the workshop, Ochieng Ogodo of SciDev.Net, reiterated the role of smallholder farmers in sustainable development, in spite of the emerging extractives economies in Africa.

He therefore stated that the media has a role to play in shaping public discussions and improving livelihoods by reporting professionally and serving as instruments of change and contributing to literacy on agriculture.

“Africa needs the media to make it understand the importance of agriculture,” said Ochieng.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency established the CAADP Journalists Network to promote agricultural development reporting in Africa.

The Network, which was launched on the eve of the 9th Comprehensive Africa CAADP Partnership Platform in Addis Ababa in 2013, aims to equip African journalists with a better understanding of CAADP, and the broader issues and debates related to agricultural development on the Continent.

According to CADDP Information and Advocacy Officer, Mwanja Nga’anjo, “Africa is still not food secure” hence the need for African countries to commit at least 5-10% of budget expenditure to agriculture.

At the Nairobi meeting, the participants agreed to bring increased attention to, and encourage debate and dialogue on the 2015-2025 CAADP Results Framework, which was recently adopted by African Heads of State and Government in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth 1.

Florent Tiassou of Green Radio World observed that agriculture, climate change and environment reporting can be made interesting to the audience if journalists can change their approach and explore diverse areas of coverage including land use management, sustainable development and wealth creation.

The meeting in Nairobi was attended by journalists from several African countries, including Togo, Niger, Namibia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Benin.

A drafted action plan will see radio programming in the Network enhanced through the NEPAD Agency’s technical support for improved agricultural coverage in African countries.

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