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    Agricultural journalism and food security in Nigeria

    By Adewale Kupoluyi Dr Kupoluyi

    Resource persons at the just-concluded National Conference on Agricultural Journalism (NCAJ), have stressed the importance of agriculture in the attainment of food security, promotion of a safe environment, and engendering national development. The theme of the conference was, “Agricultural Journalism in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”.

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    The Chairman of, the National Conference Planning Committee, Dr Adewale Kupoluyi unfolded the keynote speaker as Dr Olufemi Oladunni, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin; Mr Obinna Chukwuezie, Founder, Journalism Communication and Media Centre (JCM Centre), Jos, who would be discussing ‘Mainstreaming Value-Chain Approach in #AgReporting’; Dr Ijeoma Chibuogwu of the Department of Theriogenology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Abuja would handle ‘Diversifying the Nigerian Economy from Oil to Agriculture: The Role of Agricultural Reporting’.

    He added that the duo of Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens, Co-founders of Food for Mzansi, from Western Cape, South Africa, would take the special session on ‘Utilising Technology to Elevate Agricultural Journalism: A Case Study from Food for Mzansi, South Africa’; Dr Gabriel Nyitse of the Department of Mass Communication, Bingham University, Abuja would speak on ‘Media Coverage of Agriculture: Underreported Issues in Nigeria’; Ugonma Cokey of the Voice of Nigeria would examine the ‘Coverage of Agro-Ecology for a Safe and Healthy Environment’; while Prof. John Akintayo of the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan would look at ‘Regulatory Frameworks and Enforcement for Enhanced Agriculture Sector’.

    In a thought-provoking presentation at the conference, Mr Obinna Chukwuezie emphasised the importance of diligent reporting in the field of agricultural journalism. In his paper, titled ‘Mainstreaming Value Chain Approach to #AgReporting’, Chukwuezie shed light on the often-overlooked agrovalue chains and their significance to the industry. During his engaging presentation at the first technical session of the conference, Chukwuezie highlighted that while agriculture might not always be considered a flashy beat in journalism, it is an essential aspect of society that warrants rigorous attention from reporters. He stressed that the agriculture sector plays a pivotal role in the economy, food security, and sustainability, making it a critical subject matter for journalists to cover comprehensively.

    The communication expert harped on the need for journalists to have basic knowledge of agricultural practice and other areas such as; politics, technology, business, and food system, among others; so as to be holistic in their reports and articles; and be intentional about making impacts. “Journalists hold a unique responsibility in bringing the spotlight onto the numerous agro-value chains that underpin agriculture. These value chains encompass everything, from production and processing to distribution and marketing. Each link, in the chain, contributes to the overall success and sustainability of the industry”, he added.

    The JCM Centre founder further encouraged journalists to engage farmers, researchers, policymakers, and industry experts to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues affecting agriculture. “Journalists can act as catalysts for change by shedding light on the complexities of the agro-value chains and the people, who drive them”, he stated. The occasion was chaired by a seasoned agricultural communication expert with over 47 years of experience, Chief Godson Ononiwu; has adduced reasons why agricultural news rarely makes it to the front pages of Nigerian newspapers, as panels of experts, journalists, editors, and academia, convened at the event, discussed reasons behind this issue and the implications for the agriculture sector.

    The conference, which was held at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was jointly organised by FarmingFarmersFarms, Prime Progress and Journalism Communication and Media Centre, while some of the technical sessions witnessed discussions on obstacles facing agro-reporting with a highlight of consensus among participants that, there is an urgent need for improved reporting, innovative storytelling, and a broader understanding of the importance of agriculture, through which agriculture news would rightfully find its place on the front pages, ultimately benefiting both the sector and society as a whole. The national conference served as a platform for open dialogue on the challenges surrounding the coverage of agriculture reports in Nigeria.

    Participants also voiced pressing concerns that, despite the presence of agriculture desks in some newspapers and media outlets, there is no single “go-to-agric media house” in Nigeria. The deliberations unearthed several critical factors contributing to the underrepresentation of agriculture reports, such as poor titles and headlines, where it was pointed out that agriculture stories often receive uninspiring and unattractive headlines. They argued that a catchy and engaging title is crucial for grabbing readers’ attention and enticing them to delve into agricultural issues. Uncreative reporting styles such as cumbersome, redundant, and monotonous reporting in agric beats often lead to dry storytelling as pointed out by Ugonma Cokey in her engaging presentation on ‘Coverage of Agro-Ecology for a Safe and Healthy Environment’.

    Adewale Kupoluyi Dr Kupoluyi is the Chairman, National Conference Planning Committee.

    Culled from Daily Trust.



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