The 2nd Cohort of the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators Commences
Agroecology has the explicit goal of strengthening the sustainability of all parts of the food system, from the seed and the soil to the table, including ecological knowledge, economic viability, and social justice. Agroecology is climate resilient, environmentally and health friendly. Agroecology draws knowledge and experiences of small-scale farmers hence promoting sovereignty and sustainability. It is critical to demonstrate that Agroecology should be the way forward for agriculture for healthy food systems.
The transition to Agroecology is faced with a tremendous difficulty of communication. Small-scale farmers believe that if the media promoted Agroecology in Uganda, the population would start eating healthy foods and the detrimental effects of industrial agriculture on the environment and citizens' health would be made more widely known.
On the 16th to 17th March 2023, ESAFF Uganda organized the 1st in-person workshop for the 2nd cohort of the online Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators where a total of 13 journalists were taken through the course and the its expectations. During the workshop, Mr. Andrew Adem, the course coordinator, introduced the course to the journalists and noted that the school has three main products, including the Online Agroecology Course for Journalists and Communicators, which covers various aspects of Agroecology and is taught by knowledgeable small-scale farmers and other experts from various organizations, the Agroecology Post, which is a distinctive quarterly magazine detailing various Agroecology stories, He continued by saying that the school also offers an Agroecology Grant to help journalists and communicators cover and explain to the public issues related to Agroecology.
In addition, Mr. Adem emphasized that the course is designed to be finished in 12 weeks and offers a distinctive blended-learning approach, combining engaging, interactive in-person workshops with individualized online study, useful field-based activities, and the opportunity to apply what is learned on the job. He emphasized that participants will take part in bimonthly webinars, complete their writing assignments, have access to the online learning modules and materials, and further be exposed to the various Agroecological farming practices by small-scale farmers in order to ensure that learning continues outside of workshops.
The workshop comprised capturing journalists’ expectations from the course, group quizzes and presentations given in groups of 5. The journalists also conducted a panel discussion during which journalists explored the many obstacles that they experience in reporting on Agroecology, challenges affecting the agriculture sector and possible solutions to the challenges.
“I had never heard about Agroecology because we mainly report about the agriculture of using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. From this course I expect to gain more knowledge on how to report and write about Agroecology and how to engage different stakeholders on upscaling agroecology.” – Suhail Mugabi, News Reporter, SEE TV.
“I expect to have more interactive sessions with small scale farmers on how to practice Agroecology which I can also teach farmers and empower fellow journalists back in my district.” – Winfred Amito Lugai- News Reporter, Jambo Media Services.
Agroecology reporting, according to Ms. Suzan Nakachwa, a guest facilitator from GRAIN, begins with the individual journalist who is passionate about improving diets and the health of the community by consuming healthier foods. She challenged media professionals to prioritize changing lives over making money.
Mr. Hakim Baliraine, the National Chairperson for ESAFF Uganda and a significant facilitator for the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators, emphasized in his remarks that Agroecology can accomplish the majority of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by assisting food producers in reducing production costs, which results in greater income, economic stability, and resilience, optimizes the use of local and renewable resources and knowledge, and delivers pertinent and timely information.
“Agroecology works with local communities, food producers, and other actors to prevent land degradation and restore degraded areas. Agroecology helps to conserve and sustainably use and value the biodiversity and ecosystem services that underpin food production. Scaling up Agroecology calls for increased cooperation between productive sectors, social actors and countries hence journalists should be very central in communicating and motivating uptake of Agroecological practices”, Mr, Baliraine added.
Mr. Hakim Baliraine urged journalists in his concluding remarks to frequently publish articles on Agroecology through their media outlets or organizations or on other platforms, and to constantly provide feedback to the Agroecology School by using the available feedback mechanisms to support innovative growth.