Nigerian journalists have been urged to encourage and monitor the implementation of policies in the agriculture sector for the benefit of farmers and other stakeholders. Elisabeth Douglas, a communication specialist for the International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI, gave the charge at a two-day capacity building workshop for journalists in Calabar, Cross River State, southern Nigeria.
The training, which focused on Agricultural Policy Communication for journalists, was organized by the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project funded by the United States Agency for International Development,( USAID).
Douglas said “the goal of the project is to ensure that there are positive outcomes in agriculture for Nigeria and we do this by targeting the policy making environment. One of the ways we want to achieve that overall goal is by strengthening the ability of journalists to effectively aid decision makers.”
The Specialists, who lamented the none involvement of journalists in decision making by some governments said “it is hard to imagine that any country would want to make decisions and not involve journalists.
We have researchers, we have analysts who talk to farmers and various stakeholders and provide facts and figures. But, journalists play a very important role of amplifying those messages because they have more access to information than most of us’’, he added.
She noted that news media journalists must through their content and agenda setting roles evaluate, explain and monitor the implementation of the different agricultural policies in Nigeria for the benefits of farmers, other stakeholders.
Another facilitator at the training, Bisola Oyediran in a presentation titled “Building a Social Media Audience from Zero”, hinted that the internet is open to all media organizations besides individuals.
According to her, the social media has gone beyond just interacting with one another. Now people put out their products online, put their brands online, people network and get jobs online. So, there is no reason for journalists, news media organizations not to take advantage of the opportunity.”
She urged journalists to upload informative, educative news contents for the millions of Nigerians using different social media platforms and get people especially decision makers interested in matters that would enhance food security.
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