Stakeholders have been exposed to a deeper understanding of agroecology issues as the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) published and launched a document titled ‘Know AGROECOLOGY, A media guide for Journalists and communicators in Africa.’ Friday Editor, Ruth Tene Natsa represented Nigeria at the launch, which held in Togo on Sunday, September 9, 2018.
In the foreword written by AFSA Coordinator, Million Baley (PhD), he said, AFSA recognises that, one of the key ingredients for influencing policy is communication, both by agroecology communicators and journalists.
“It is my view that a disempowered and uninformed Journalist cannot play a serious role of empowering his or her audience. We also recognise that the task of the journalist is a complex one to explain to the ordinary person what food sovereignty means, linking health and nutrition with agriculture, informing people about laws and policies relating to food and seeds and educating the people about the growing agroecology movement”
Dr Baley, lamenting the huge challenges Africans face on the issues of agroecology said, “the most important impact is on the narrative to Africans. We are told that we cannot feed ourselves, that the food we are producing cannot feed the future demand of Africa, that is if we want to produce more food. We are told that we will have to use chemicals, hybrid seeds and new forms of knowledge and that is the biggest narrative.
“And the narrative is supported by policies and regulations in Africa. That narrative is a lie and is promoted because it is good for selling a product to Africa, more chemicals, more hybrids and more GMOs are coming into Africa, all because of these narratives.
“We have the Commercial Agricultural Development Programme (CADP) funded by companies and countries who support and own these companies and development agents. Even some African governments are also buying into these narratives.”
The Agroecology expert maintained that the main direction of these narratives is productivity. Nobody is against productivity but when asked how to produce more and look if the production will affect the health and nutrition of the people, the earth, then the question is different. “Under the umbrella of AFSA, we are promoting the food production system, which produces more; looks at the time, food systems and is also kind to the environment.
He assured that there is evidence that if Africa works on her soil, with the material that she has (biomass) to convert that into compost, if we improve the productivity of our seeds as well as train our farmers, we would see that Africa can feed itself.
Speaking on the publication of the media guide by the group, he said, media guide is a document to help journalists start the conversation. We talked to ourselves and we wanted to broaden the discussion to reach African governments, citizens and consumers and we agreed that the only way we could do this was to bring in the media to help us. So, we organised training with the media and they told us they needed a guide and thus the publication, so that the media can better understand how to report agroecology.
He called on the African governments to go back and seek for what they can take forward from their culture (the African culture) and also look at the health and environment of the people before taking systems from other cultures and adopting them. We have other cultures that have looked back and taken what is good from their culture and moved forward by implementing them.
Bridget Mugambe, Alliance For Food Sovereignty In Africa (AFSA) Said the essence of the gathering was aimed at looking at culture biodiversity (how they celebrate culture), to launch the communications guide for media that AFSA had done over the last year, to share what is agroecology and how the media can improve its reporting on agroecology as well as improve information sharing on the subject. While the third is on climate change; how to come up with strategies and how civil societies can strengthen their strategies on climate change.
What inspired the publication of the media guide, according to her, was when they saw that there was a lot of disconnected information flow. She noted that there were people who wanted to report agroecology but do not know the terminologies or understand what the subject is all about. They do not understand if it is just agriculture or a subject much deeper than agriculture.
So, we thought we would create a guide that talks about some of the terminologies, how people report agroecology, where they find their stories and their sources and all those challenges.
At the end of the day, we hope it will help to increase the amount of information on agroecology that is being shared with Journalists as well as CSOs. If they understand it more, then they will begin to share it better. So, we will have more information going out and more people coming to support agroecology, which is the way that Africans do their agriculture.
So, we see a movement of agroecologist practitioners coming up and sharing all these information.
A computer and multi-media skills facilitator and coordinator for Young Volunteers for the Environment, Oyo State, Akinola Anthony, said the organisation volunteers, protects and sensitises communities about the disasters humans can cause for the environment and tries to make the environment a better place for everybody.
He said as part of their activities, they clear drainages, sensitise people and teach people on the use of re-usable plastics rather than littering the environment.
Speaking on challenges of littering, he said there were many bad effects, particularly sickness, diarrhea and multiple infections and diseases as well as the environment not looking good.
Speaking on the response of citizens, he said it was not easy getting people’s attention and changing their orientations but he assured they were doing their best and were beginning to see results of people changing.
He maintained that while governments were doing their best, it was difficult getting access to them, noting that as volunteers, they sometimes exhausted their resources and getting access to government for sponsorship and support remained a herculean task.
Funding remained a major challenge to spreading the message on preserving the environment. He however assured that as volunteers, they discharged all they could with their time, resources and energy for their promotions.
He called on government and other stakeholders to support the Non-Governmental Organisations working with the environment, stating there was so much to do to protect the environment, particularly in the area of sensitisation. People need to be reached out to and educated on how best to protect the environment.
Also speaking, a farmer and member of the YVE, Olasunkanmi Dolapo, said farmers were challenged by low level of knowledge on agroecology as many depended on alternative sources. There is no awareness sensitisation for farmers. Noting that smallholder farmers were the largest contributors to food production, he said awareness is low.
He assured that the sensitisation by the JVE in partnership with AFSA, would create more awareness to Africa thereby reducing the risk and impact of unsafe agro practices in Africa as a whole.
Under the umbrella of AFSA, we are promoting the food production system, which produces more; looks at the time, food systems and is also kind to the environment.
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