By Awa B. Bah
The Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC), The Gambia, in partnership with the Danish Food and Agriculture Journalism, DFAJ, on Friday19th May 2017, completed an 18-month agric-journalism training course, for ten communities and three radio stations in the country. The event was held at a local hotel in the Senegambia area.
The training of 24 agriculture journalists was aimed at empowering agriculture and farmers by means of better agricultural journalism, funded by the Danish Civil Society Organization, CISU.
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-practising journalists such as communicators, to become members.
The members are journalists from the print and electronic media as well as communication officers from organizations, institutions and authorities from agricultural agencies and industries. The members are permanent employees, freelancers and a few retirees, as well as students.
The primary activities of the network is organizing in house training and workshops, where information is shared and discussed in a professional manner as well as making company visits and visits to farming communities. The network also hosts radio talk shows on matters related to agriculture, to help guide farmers on how to be good farm managers.
In his opening address, the president of Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC) The Gambia Amadou Jallow, said the training was initiated in order to enlighten farmers through radio programmes, adding that the graduates were well-trained to disseminate agri – information in their nation, as agriculture is the backbone of the country’s development; that the NAC was proud to train the first set of agriculture journalists, in order to contribute their quota in moving the sector forward.
He said radio journalists were chosen, because most of the country’s farmers are illiterate; that the graduating participants are well-equipped to raise the voices of farmers in their various radios and communities as this will give the farmers the opportunity to understand and operate by themselves..
The Minister of Information, Demba A. Jawo, speaking at the ceremony, said the idea of agricultural journalism training was innovative and it was amazing how journalists are specialising and added that the training was very timely, especially to the profession of journalism who plays a crucial role in giving out information .“We are in the new Gambia and such training will make media houses to survive in the future,” he said.
The youth trainer, Modou S. Joof, said the project was meant to build journalism skills of the participants to effectively report on agricultural issues that will benefit farmers and policymakers in the Gambia. He said journalism is the best profession to champion the sharing of timely, accurate and useful information.
The training he revealed began in November 2015 with 26 trainees from 10 community and 3 commercial radio stations and was conducted once every month in all clusters.
“They were trained on topics including news gathering, headline writing for print, producing news briefs, wrap news, radio magazine, ethics and media laws with theory, practical experience and assignments.
Representing the Danish Food and Agriculture Journalism DFAJ was Finn Asnes, who said his organization, with support from the Danish Civil Society Organization CISU partnered with NAA to empower the farmers through training journalists on agriculture related issues.
He commended the participants for devoting their time to the development of their country through agricultural enlightenment. The project he recalled was aimed at training 26 radio journalists, 80 per cent of whom are from the community, on effective agricultural reporting in a bid to helping the Gambia government to attain its agricultural visions.
Sang Mendy Country Coordinator said the initiative was to look at the importance of agricultural programmes in our radios and add to it development in the Gambia, adding that they have prepared the graduates to work alone and in teams in their various radios. He further urged the graduates to strengthen agriculture in the Gambia through the knowledge they would gain during the training.
Representing the Minister of Agriculture was Lamin Bajo, Director of Communication, Education and Extension Services at the said ministry. He said agriculture has many issues and the graduation of the journalists, is a new development in the sector. He commended the network for a great job and called on the participants to use the knowledge gained. There was a presentation of certificates and awards, to participants.