As necessary arrangements are being put in place to host the National Conference on Agricultural Journalism (NCAJ), tested and reputable guest speakers have been unfolded for the two-day programme, holding at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, from August 31 to September 1, 2023. The maiden edition of the conference themed, ‘Agricultural Journalism in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects’, is designed to discuss the major challenges facing agriculture with a view to proffering sustainable solutions to them using journalism and communication media, to promote food security and a safe environment.
Specifically, the national conference seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of media practitioners and journalists in modern agriculture reporting, deepen participants’ understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the Nigerian agriculture sector, connect participants for collaborations using news coverage to promote food security, identify key issues for media advocacy in the sector, and develop an action plan to respond to them. Other aims and objectives are to broaden participants’ knowledge and coverage of agricultural ecology (agro-ecology) for a safe and healthy environment as well as examine regulatory frameworks and enforcement for enhanced agriculture sector.
The conference is being put together for journalists such as editors, correspondents and reporters from the print, electronic and online media, covering agriculture and environment in Nigeria; government officials, global media experts, students, researchers, academia, farmers’ networks, development partners, lawyers, lawmakers, and captains of industry, amongst others. The relevance of this discourse is further strengthened by the fact that recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria made a bold move to boost agricultural production by declaring a state of emergency on food security; a development, which places the media at a vantage position to stimulate the much-needed atmosphere for diversification, economic growth and national development that the country urgently needs.
The Chairman, National Conference Planning Committee, Dr. Adewale Kupoluyi, has informed that the conference Keynote Speaker is Dr. Olufemi Oladunni, Executive Director, Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, Nigeria. Dr. Oladunni’s career in the agriculture and rural sector of Nigeria over the past 29 years, had achieved an impact that spreads across the nation, the coasts of Africa and beyond. The ARMTI Executive Director played leading roles in the design, curriculum development and execution of several pivotal projects both within and outside the country, having served as resource person to the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Swiss government, the Reaching Agents of Change (RAC), West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP), Helen Keller Foundation, and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), to mention a few.
NCAJ is structured into five technical, and one special sessions while guest speakers include 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’; as Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens, Co-founders of Food for Mzansi, 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’.
This special session seeks to showcase how Food For Mzansi, a leading agricultural news outlet in South Africa, has successfully incorporated digital technologies to promote its content to boost South Africa’s agriculture sector. It would delve into the strategies employed, such as using social media, webinars, and podcasts, to engage a wider audience and to provide crucial insights about South African farming practices, policies, and innovations. The session would equally share how the media organisation was able to overcome challenges including accessibility, language diversity, and digital literacy, and how these key strategies can be adapted to enhance agricultural journalism in Nigeria, considering its unique socio-cultural and technological features.
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’.
The national conference is jointly organised by FarmingFarmersFarms; and Prime Progress newspapers; and Journalism Communication and Media Centre (JCM Centre); with technical support from the Nigeria Media Innovation Programme (NAMIP), which is implemented by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF); affiliated to the MacArthur Foundation, United States of America. It would be held at the Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja, Plot 779, Cadastral Zone AO, Central Area, Abuja. To also encourage individual and institutional promotion of food security in Nigeria and Africa, awards would be given to recipients, under four categories at the occasion. No doubt, we strongly believe that with the line up of speakers and topics, NCAJ is apt, unique and coming at the right time in the life of the nation and hence, deserves active attendance and participation by all stakeholders.