Media Workshop: “Communicating Agricultural Science for Impact”

08/07/2017
By Paida Mpaso

Media Workshop, Aug 7-10, 2017
Participants in workshop

This workshop exposed media professionals to agricultural research and findings. The goal was two-fold: Have scientists from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) develop their communication skills as they present their own agricultural research to media professionals; have journalists learn how to interact with scientists to effectively disseminate information on research findings toward a broader audience.

The workshop has attracted over 20 journalists from across the country. The training was delivered by professors from Michigan State University (MSU) from the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) program, NAPAS: Malawi staff, and the CEO of Farm Radio Trust. This event was the fifth one in a series of media trainings that have taken place since 2015. The series is organized by the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, (MoAIWD) through the New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support Project Malawi (NAPAS: Malawi) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID-MALAWI).

At the opening ceremony, the guest of honor, Director of Agriculture, Research Services, (DARS) Dr Wilkson Makumba, said that agricultural science and research is very important to the advancement of the agriculture sector and society in general.

“If media is to cover agricultural scientific research to impact and benefit people, it will have to be done in a way that is accessible so that people are able to digest the scientific information and apply it to their day-to-day lives,” he said. He therefore commended NAPAS for its continued efforts in working with the media in Malawi. 

Chief of Party for NAPAS, Flora Nankhuni emphasized the need for media and researchers to come together and share information. She said, research results from Chitedze Research Station, LUANAR and other research institutions are mostly available in journals on the international platform.
“We would like to have more research that is done in agriculture be easily accessible to the general public. Research conducted in Malawi must also benefit the locals here before the global community and for this to happen, we need an effective communication tool to help reach the masses.” 

“Our research centres such as LUANAR, the CGIAR, and many others at Chitedze Research Station, for example, come up with various research findings that can be key to grow the Malawi economy. But there seems to be a gap between the scientists and the end-users of those particular findings. This is where we feel the media comes in,” she said.

Mike Van Kamande, President of the Media Network on Agriculture (MENA), added: “Agriculture remains the backbone of Malawi’s economy and MENA came into existence in 2015 with the objective of equipping agriculture journalists with knowledge and skills on how best they can acquire information about agriculture, nutrition and food security, and effectively develop good transformative stories for the same. Because of such trainings, agriculture journalists will have access to up-to-date and adequate knowledge about the Ministry, its departments and development partners on the policies and programs being implemented to improve the economy,” he said.

The training included a field trip to LUANAR, Natural Resources College (NRC), and Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), and meetings between media professionals and researchers, in particular the researchers that are currently involved with MSU’s Innovation Scholars Program (ISP) through the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) program funded by USAID-HESN (Higher Education Solution Network).

Workshop program

Opening Speech, Dr. Wilkson Makumba, Director of Agricultural Research Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development

IN THE MEDIA
LUANAR moves in to save chambo, The Nation, August 15, 2017
IITA warns of aflatoxin, offering free testing, The Nation, August 18, 2017
Media role in agricultural development critical, The Nation, August 19, 2017
Bridging food scientists and journalists with communications training in the public interest, The Food Fix, August 20, 2017
NAPAS for increased “agricultural science” reporting, The Nation, August 20, 2017

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