The CGIAR-FARA 2008 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism in Africa attracted 49 print and broadcast entries on issues affecting Africa’s key crops (banana, cassava, maize, rice) and livestock, namely biofuels, climate change, the role of biotechnology, food safety, access to fertilizers, pest management and efforts to control noxious weeds such as striga.
Ms. Oyella won the prize for outstanding broadcast story while Mr. Ojanji received the outstanding print media prize. Each award, carrying a cash value of US$5,000, recognizes journalists’ efforts in effectively communicating agricultural science issues to the general public.
This year’s prize was jointly offered by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).
Saving the Cooking Banana
Patricia Oyella, editor and reporter at WBS TV in Uganda, received the award for her broadcast feature, “Saving the Cooking Banana,” shown on WBS TV and on Business Africa, a program broadcast on a network of more than 45 African and five European partner channels. Combining powerful, captivating imagery with precise narratives, the feature demonstrated the importance of this food crop in Africa, the problems faced by banana farmers, and the solutions offered by researchers.
Wandera Ojanji, science and environmental writer at the East African Standard newspaper in Kenya, received the outstanding print award for his article, “Endangered Species,” published on September 2, 2007. In his article, Ojanji effectively highlighted the plight of diminishing indigenous livestock breeds in Kenya and neighboring countries, and advocated strongly for the conservation of their genetic diversity through research, local breeding programs, and policy interventions.
“In this day of information overload, journalists have to be concise, accurate and relevant. They additionally have to present agricultural information attractively and innovatively. Their choice of words and images sometimes has more impact than loads of scientific evidence,” said Francois Stepman, Communications Specialist for the Accra-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. “We truly laud the efforts of journalists to inform and educate the public about the importance of issues affecting agriculture in Africa, and solutions offered by research.” Reference: Press release CGIAR 02/12/2008