Director in the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD), Wilkinson Makumba said this when he officially opened a week long training workshop for members of Media Network on Agriculture (MENA) in Lilongwe.
“Agriculture science and research are fundamental to the agricultural sector in the wake of persistent natural phenomena which require that our scientists work on various technologies and innovations that would help our farmers mitigate impacts of climate change. Exposing media professionals to agricultural research is crucial to effective communication of agricultural science for impact,” said Makumba.
Makumba stressed that the intersection of agriculture science and the media can never be overstated as the media plays an essential role to deduce and dilute scientific information for the general public.
“The language used by scientists is full of technical jargons which are hardly understood by the public, especially our farmers so journalists have a crucial role to make sure that they are familiar with the new technologies and turn them in a way that would be accessible and digestible to people”, he said.
While urging journalists to interact with scientists, the DAES Director further challenged the media to regularly appreciate a number of scientific initiatives in various research stations across the country, including Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, LUANAR. He also urged journalists to give prominence to agricultural science as a way of encouraging farmers to adopt new technologies.
“Don’t just make phone calls or send questionnaires to the scientists, rather spare some time to physically visit these places where you can appreciate some scientific developments and research initiatives which you can ably tell the nation”, Advised Makumba.
Speaking earlier on the opening day, Dr Flora Nankhuni, Chief of Party for New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support (NAPAS) – Malawi, observed that journalists have a special way of telling stories hence they are rightly placed to have information about agricultural science and collaborate with researchers so that they can understand each other and communicate to the public about new technologies.
“Journalists can take knowledge and package it in a way that a farmer can benefit. Farmers will perish if they are not given information”, Nankhuni noted.
On the workshop, Nankhuni said it was one of a series of trainings for agriculture journalists in Malawi, to acquaint them with agricultural issues and enhance skills in agricultural reporting. “This workshop will help members of MENA to come up with stories that would not be told. They have skills in how they craft news for the interest of the public and we would like them to give prominence to news and information about agricultural science and research, from an informed point of view”, said Nankhuni.
During the workshop, journalists were taken on a tour of Chitedze Research Station, Natural Resources College, LUANAR and other field sites where they appreciated a number of innovations and technologies being developed and advanced by scientists, students and researchers.
The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development through New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support (NAPAS), a project which is supporting agricultural policy reform, with funding from USAID.