Building journalists’ capacity to report on agriculture sector

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Abidjan, June 2016 – The African Media Initiative held two back-to-back workshops in West Africa last month. The first, in Accra, Ghana, organized in collaboration with the State of the Union Coalition, brought together top African editors and officials from the African Union to explore ways of capturing the essence of the continental body.

The second, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, co-organized with the World Bank. The event — Strengthening reporting of Agriculture and Food Sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa: A workshop to build journalism capacity — was the first in a series designed to develop a critical mass of journalists skilled in covering a select number of development sectors.

AMI rolled out its training plan at the three-day workshop in Abidjan, where it exposed about 50 journalists to the intricacies of covering the agriculture sector. Once fully trained, the journalists will belong to a professional network and a continental community of practice, said Eric Chinje, the Chief Executive Officer of the African Media Initiative.

The project is based on AMI’s conviction that well-informed reporting, incorporating evidence-based knowledge and data could be used in broader development policy-making in areas such as poverty reduction, employment and labour policies, as well as overall economic policy.

According to Chinje, the journalists will be expected to gather and analyze agriculture data and render reports on agriculture that are “palatable and digestible by all levels of media consumers.”

In addition, they will populate “an online network platform with their reports and documentaries, thus, allowing for well-researched and informed articles and audio-visual products to be widely disseminated beyond their own media organizations”.

Forty of the journalists were drawn from West Africa and the rest from North, Central, East, Southern and the Indian Ocean Islands.

The co-sponsors, World Bank Africa Region (WBAR) and World Bank Agriculture Global Practice (AGB), were represented by among others, Sawart Hussain, AGB’s head of communications, Abdoulaye, lead economist, Holger Kray, lead agricultural economist, and Craig Hammer, senior operations officer.

Other resource people included, Buba Khan, Africa advocacy officer for Action Aid International, and Muchiri Nyaggah, executive director, Local Development Research Institute (Kenya).