New Countries Join IFAJ

Profiles on new IFAJ members

At IFAJ’s 2018 Delegate Assembly, held in conjunction with the annual congress in the Netherlands, eight new member countries were accepted as part of the organization’s continuing efforts to support agricultural journalism and communications around the world. The following is an introduction to three of the new member countries with the others to follow in the next IFAJ newsletter.

UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA

Tanzania is a coastal country in south-eastern Africa, which also contains the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, an island just off the coast in the Indian Ocean. Agriculture is the main economic activity for most people in Zanzibar-Tanzania with about 60%-70% of the active labour force deriving their livelihood from agriculture–related activities and the majority them being are women who mostly used traditional methods of farming. Apart from its contribution of about 36% of GDP, agriculture also provides employment to 70% (42% directly) of the population in rural areas). In general, agriculture contributes to the growth of the economy, provides employment opportunities for the teaming population, export revenue earnings and helps eradicates poverty.

In order to ensure that the agricultural sector is strong and farmers benefit from existing opportunities, in 2013 some journalists came up with the idea of establishing an association that would play a role in protecting the rights of farmers. This association, called Zanzibar-Tanzania Journalists for Environment and Agriculture Association, has as its objectives to:

  • Boost the agriculture and environment sector in Zanzibar and United Republic of Tanzania

  • Inform agriculture and environment activists on relevant issues to increase awareness and access to information

  • Popularize agriculture and environment laws and policies for Zanzibar and United Republic of Tanzania

  • Help farmers to benefit from market access

  • Ensure farmers receive agriculture facilities at a timely and affordable price

  • Support school environment clubs

  • Support environment and agriculture journalists

  • Motivate the rural population to increase productivity and reduce environment destruction

Its vision is to improve the livelihood of the people of United Republic of Tanzania through agriculture and to ensure food security.

In next few years the association expects to implement a number of activities:

  • To train 76 journalists with priority given to the agricultural and environmental sectors

  • Capacity building for leaders

  • Increase the number of members who are dedicated in agricultural and environmental journalism

  • To organize the IFAJ Congress

  • Strengthening the capacity of the association financially

  • Help farmers to participate in national and regional agricultural forums

The association is still young and so faces many challenges including:

  • Lack of financial resources which makes it difficult for the association to implement its goals to build the capacity of its members in addressing the challenges facing farmers. This situation also leads to failure to reach farmers on time.

  • Training is an important part of building a solid institution and in order for journalists to write good agricultural stories with impact, they need regular training which the association is not yet able to provide on a regular basis.

  • Although the association is composed of agriculture and environment journalists, there is still a shortage of expertise and professionals in these areas to support training in investigative and public interest journalism.

Chairman of the Zanzibar-Tanzania Journalists for Environment and Agriculture Association Executive Committee, Talib Ussi, speaks with committee members at their office, Kikwajuni Unguja.

LIBERIA

The Liberia Agricultural Journalists Network (LAJN) is a national network of print, broadcast and online journalists and communicators established in 2015 with a keen interest to report on agricultural and rural development issues in Liberia. Nearly sixty percent of LAJN members are community radio based journalists that are very close to various farming communities throughout the country.

The LAJN secretariat, headed by National Coordinator Jefferson Massah, runs the daily activities of the network with support from its board of advisors. Currently, the LAJN network has coordinators based in 13 of the 15 counties of Liberia with responsibility to coordinate the network activities at the county level.

LAJN continues to explore opportunities for its members to enhance their capacity in making the network more responsive to the information needs of smallholder farmers. The strategic focus for the next few years is to undertake the following activities as a network:

  • Capacity Building and Training – LAJN considers training and capacity building for its members as core activities for the network over the next three years (2019-2021). The network faces serious capacity challenges due to the limited number of journalists that have acquired specialized training in agricultural journalism apart from conventional practices in journalism. It is anticipated that more attention needs to be concentrated on training for members through partnerships with other guilds.

  • Website Development – In order to increase the visibility of the LAJN’s activities, both locally and internationally, the establishment of a website that will serve as a repository for agricultural news and information from Liberia.

  • Annual Agricultural Journalism Award – As a means of promoting excellence in agricultural journalism, LAJN intends to host an annual award program to recognize outstanding journalists with the best agricultural news reports.

  • Reporting Projects- LAJN intends to collaborate with potential donors or other IFAJ guilds to undertake various reporting projects in the Liberian agricultural sector.

Current challenges facing LAJN are significant, including:

  • Lack of financial and material resources to effectively run the network adequately

  • Limited interest among agricultural stakeholders in Liberia to support the LAJN’s work

  • Building the capacity of young members in the network through training

  • Limited logistics to enhance effective coordination in rural parts of Liberia

  • The struggle to establish partnership support with potential donors.

IFAJ executive member and LAJN national coordinator, Jefferson Massah (green shirt) accompanied by the staff of a Liberian community radio station.

SENEGAL

REJAQUES (Réseau des journalistes associés aux questions agricoles, à l’élevage et à la pêche) is a network of journalists associated with agricultural, livestock and fisheries issues with nearly 30 members, half of whom are agricultural journalists working in general media (TV, radio, print media) while the other half is composed of people active in organizations or companies whose activity is related to the agriculture or the agri-food sector. Created in early 2017, REJAQUES intends to shed light on major agricultural issues: agricultural policy in Senegal, the larger societal issues of the environment and the deleterious effects of agriculture on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, market volatility and globalization.

The organization regularly organizes debates, round tables and forums, holds regular meetings with agricultural project managers, senior officials, leaders of professional organizations, researchers, and academics that REJAQUES associates with its reflections on fundamental and topical issues. Press trips around Senegal are also organized, along with meetings with authors of books on agricultural themes and associated subjects. There is also participation in trade shows (International Agricultural Show, International Agricultural Machinery Exhibition) and the general assembly, which is an opportunity to take stock of the year of action and think about the tasks ahead.

One of REJAQUES main accomplishments is the establishment of the agroactu.net website which is a large electronic platform for agriculture, livestock, and fishing. Currently, the platform is ready and the migration of information to go on-line will soon be activated. The platform is a forum for journalists interested in the sector and projects for producers and the aim is to make it the largest agricultural information site in the sub-region.

A quarterly bulletin, REJAQUES INFOS, also allows members of the network to address topics on agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

REJAQUES is also working on some projects, notably:

BUILDING A SEAT

The establishment of a headquarters allows the directors to meet regularly and work in the greatest peace of mind.

SETTING UP THE AFRICAN NETWORK OF AGRICULTURAL JOURNALISTS

As a member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, we have a good base with the African member countries (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea Conakry, South Africa, Benin, and Rwanda) to set up a network. For the moment, REJAQUES and AMEDAR in Guinea are working on the creation of the African Network.

CREATE RURAL TELEVISION AND RADIO

A television and rural thematic radio broadcast, to talk exclusively about agriculture, livestock and fishing, would be an excellent opportunity to talk about development issues in the future.

Members of REJAQUES in Senegal gather together for one of their events; Hamidou Diop, IFAJ executive member, is in the front, left (with the computer bag).