The IFAJ Delegate Assembly welcomed two new members at the online meeting held on Thursday, 25 June 2020. Sierra Leone and Zambia now become the 54th and 55th member countries in IFAJ.
The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit professional association for agricultural journalists and communicators in 55 countries around the world and whose member guilds embrace freedom of the press. IFAJ would like to welcome two new members into the organization.
Agricultural Journalists Network of Sierra Leone (AJNSL)
Sierra Leone joins its neighbours, Liberia and Guinea, as an IFAJ member. Nearly half of the working-age population in Sierra Leone engages in subsistence agriculture which makes it an important component of the country’s social and economic fabric.
The Agricultural Journalists Network of Sierra Leone (AJNSL) is a professional membership organization comprising broadcast, print and online journalists devoted to reporting on agricultural and rural development issues across the 16 political districts of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
AJNSL was established on September 15, 2019, to serve as a medium for the dissemination of agricultural information, and the education of farmers and agricultural stakeholders.
AJNSL objectives include enhancing the professional capacities of agriculture journalists , seeking local, national and international support for the sustainability of the network , promoting the growth and development for network members nationwide , giving voice to marginalized farmers such as women and youth, and building strong solidarity and networking among its members.
Access to updated information by smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone on innovative agricultural practices is limited. In most cases, their primary source of information remains their friends and family network and occasionally government agriculture extension officers and NGOs staff. Consequently, agricultural knowledge among smallholders is most often outdated and is a contributing factor to poor performance and limited on farm upgrading. AJN is therefore working to narrow the information gap among smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone as indicated above through a mass-media approach.
Zambia Green Writers & Communicators Network (ZGWCN)
The Zambia Green Writers and Communicators Network (ZGWCN) is a non-profit, apolitical, non-governmental, independent organization that has no lucrative or patrimonial purpose, conducting specific activities meant to educate the public, protect the interests of agricultural journalists and improve the agricultural journalism landscape in the Republic, Zambia.
While copper mining remains the known export and foreign exchange earner for Zambia, this southern African country is largely an agrarian economy with the majority of the people, especially rural communities, dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. However, agriculture rarely makes headlines in the news so to improve media coverage of agriculture as an important sector, and spearhead professional development for agriculture journalists, the idea of forming the Zambia Green Writers and Communicators Network was born in 2016. This was after three of the country’s passionate agricultural journalists attended the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Master Class Fellowship in at the annual congress held in Germany.
In terms of membership, the Network draws its strength from the existing government agricultural communication unit called the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS), which has a network of agricultural journalists dotted across the length and breadth of the country. Additionally, considering the thin line that exists between journalism and communication, the network has embraced an inclusive approach by allowing active public relations and other green communicators to be members.
This has also been done for the purpose of linkages and leveraging support from industry players in an ever-increasing competitive and climate-changing environment that directly impacts on agricultural development.