The Network of Agricultural Communicators the Gambia in partnership with the Danish Civil Society organization Friday held the first ever graduation ceremony of the Agric journalism education project in a colorful event held at a local hotel in Kololi and was attended by government officials, NGOS, radio managers and members of the media.
The 18 months training course which began in November 2015 is a project dubbed ’empowering farmers by means of better agricultural journalism’ is aimed at building the skills and capacity of the participants to effectively report on agriculture that would be of great benefit to farmers and policy makers.
Twenty six agricultural journalist from ten community radio and three commercial stations across the country have benefitted from the project.
In his keynote address, Lamin Bajo the representative of the Minister of Agriculture said the Government of the Gambia through the ministry of agriculture is making every effort to transform the agricultural sector from subsistence to commercial level by paying special attention to the value chain development of agricultural produce.
“This is so because the ministry no longer believes that only production and productivity of crops can ensure the food security requirement of the country, storage and marketing are important to maintain supply of the agricultural produce. This move by the Danish foundation is a step in the right direction,” he stated.
The added that the ministry is fully aware of the importance of community radios in supporting its extension forces on the ground to reach more farmers in a number of ways. “The ministry is therefore making every effort to establish a structure that will fully engage the community radios around the country in order to improve agricultural productivity and hence attain food self- sufficiency and security in the Gambia,” Bajo said.
For his part Mr. Modou S Joof, the lead trainer of the project, said the aim of the project is to equip agric journalists with the requisite skills and knowledge in sharing information relating to agricultural activities that would bring in positive impact on the farmers lives.
He explained that the participants have been trained on various topics such as news gathering, angling sources, interviewing, audio editing, etc. and everything that a journalist needs as a tool to operate.
He said overall as trainers they have noted the progress registered during the implementation of the project.
“The agricultural programmes on radios are much better than what they used to be, the participants have been able to use the new skills in their radio programs and are graduating with the skills needed to empower farmers through better agricultural reporting,” he said.
Sang Mendy, the country coordinator of NAC, said the project will go a long way in helping raise the awareness of the farmers and impacting positive changes on their lives.
He commended the participants for their commitment and hard work throughout the implementation of the 18 months training project. He advised them to make best use of the knowledge and skills gained during the training saying, “to whom much is given much is expected.”
Finn Asnes, a representative of the Danish Food and Agricultural Journalist Association, assured NAC of his organization’s continuous support and guidance in the near future.