The maiden edition of the National Conference on Agricultural Journalism or NCAJ has commenced in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The conference, jointly organised by Farming Farmers Farms, Prime Progress and Journalism Communication and Media Centre or JCM Centre, with technical support from the Nigeria Media Innovation Programme or NAMIP, brought together journalists, entrepreneurs, students, academics and researchers on agriculture to learn and network.
The event began with a technical session by Obinna Chukwuezie, the founder of the Journalism Communication and Media Centre or JMC. In his session, he discussed “ Mainstreaming Value-Chain Approach in Agricultural Reporting.
He explained how the media remains an essential source for reporting agriculture in Nigeria. He also identified the lacuna in beats for agricultural reporting as media houses barely allocate resources to the coverage of the sector.
Chukwuezie explored the varsity of Agricultural journalism, encompassing broad areas like science, politics, climate change, health, and many more. Also, he encouraged journalists that though it is broad and not rosy to report these kinds of stories, many captivating human-angle stories increase a reporter’s experience and give them limitless opportunities to explore.
Also speaking, Ijeoma Chibuogwu, a lecturer at the University of Abuja, highlighted the importance of agriculture and made an argument for diversifying the ‘Nigerian Economy from Oil to Agriculture.’
Chibuogwu spoke on the problem Nigeria has faced since abandoning agriculture to fully focus on oil and the prospects agriculture holds, adding that some of the challenges that come with relying strictly on oil include limited market, skewed policies in favour of oil exploration, environment degradation, risk of political instability, lopsidedness of state empowerment and growth, and many more.
She listed Advocacy Journalism, Solutions Journalism, Public Awareness and Data Journalism as one of the most important ways reporters can report on agriculture, its importance, prospects, and necessary accountability for funds channelled to policies and programs.
With established knowledge about the inexhaustible prospects and surmountable challenges revolving around the agricultural sector. Journalists were encouraged to consider Agriculture a quintessential beat for reportage.
Other speakers at the 2-day event include Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens of Food for Mzanzi, Dr Gabriel Nyitse of the Department of Mass Communications, Bingham University and Dr Olufemi Oladunni of the Agricultural and Rural Management Institute, amongst others.