The Nigerian Association of Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) is a guild with membership across print, electronic, and online media in Nigeria. The association was formed in May 2014 and has made membership open to every agricultural writer dedicated to the sector.
In Nigeria, agriculture is an important sector, not just for food security, but also because it contributes about a quarter (25 percent) of GDP, and accounts for the largest employment of labour. Despite this, it is a poor performing sector, as Nigeria’s economy remains largely oil dependent, and needless food imports continues on a massive scale. Agricultural productivity is generally low despite a huge market and opportunities for investment. The problems bedevilling agriculture in Nigeria are as enormous as the opportunities for them to be turned into economic advantage. Therefore our work at NAAJ is important; keeping the public abreast of what is happening in the sector, holding government and policy makers accountable, and helping players in Nigeria’s agribusiness to improve their productivity.
NAAJ Plans for the Future
In the coming years, NAAJ wants to make agricultural reporting more professional. We hope to achieve this by engaging members in more capacity building to sharpen their skills in being at their very best as we try to give agriculture the attention it deserves.
Mentorship for future agriculture journalists is another thing we hope to commence very soon. In years to come, we want to be part of the professional development of agriculture journalists. We have observed that some journalism students have already decided areas they want to focus on in their professional careers, and all that is left is getting quality mentorship to provide a head start, and flourish. Providing this mentorship to the younger journalists; from their training period to the early years of the careers, is one of our long-term goals.
Challenges That You Face
There is often a perception that agricultural reporting is the least attractive beat in the news room. For some people, it is like a ‘sentence’ or condemnation when assigned to the beat. However, we feel this should not be the case. Agriculture has immense potentials and we believe with our plans for the future members will appreciate this unique beat even more.
There is of course the problem of finance. This particularly affects agriculture journalists who are desirous to visit the mostly rural areas where farming activities take place. Grants are almost non-existent to support journalists who want to pursue novel story ideas.