Last Saturday The West African Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP-Liberia) completed its first media-training workshop for Liberian journalists and extension agents at the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) in Suakoko, Bong County.
At least 10 media practitioners and eight extension workers from eight of the 15 counties of Liberia benefited the training.
The trainees were taught in script writing in the agricultural style, identifying communication targets in the agriculture sector, creating messages, and others.
The National Communication Technical Working Group (NCTG) of WAAPP-Liberia organized the workshop.
WAAPP-Liberia is 10 year adaptable project of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). Each five year duration is intended to increase the production of rice and cassava in the country.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Thursday, the Monitor and Evaluation Officer of WAAPP-Liberia, Edward Borlor, stated that the workshop was intended to brighten the knowledge of both journalists and extension workers on how to report on agricultural activities in the country.
He said that in order for the work of agriculture production to become visible to the Liberian public, journalists must be trained to report on agriculture activities.
“The improvement of food security is a major concern for every Liberian. Therefore, the media must exert more effort to inform the public about all that the MoA and its partners are doing to ensure the country becomes food secured,” Mr. Borlor asserted.
According to Mr. Borlor the idea of the setting up of the national commutation committee at WAAPP-Liberia is to ensure that information about the program adequately reached the Liberian people, especially the local farmers.
He said that the project intends to build the capacities of journalists wishing to report on agriculture as long as the program extends in the country.
‘WAAPP-Liberia is committed to making sure that all necessary support is given to you to carry out your duties to the public,” he assured both the reporters and extension agents at the workshop.
Mr. Borlor mentioned that journalists trained from the rural counties where the project is being carried out would produce programs on their various radio stations about the project to educate the farmers.
He said that the extension workers would ensure that every piece of information about the program reaches the farmers in their respective productive fields.
He expressed the hope that the knowledge acquired by the participants for communication would help enhance the country’s food security program.
Meanwhile, in his opening statement on last Thursday in CARI, the Assistant Minster for Technical Services at the Ministry of Information, Rick Barsigiah, challenged Liberian journalists reporting on the agriculture sector to see their role as a national responsibility.
“Considering that food security is of a paramount to President Sirleaf’s administration, it is important that journalists remain focused when reporting all that is happening in the agriculture sector,” he said.
He stated that, “The task of rebuilding the country, especially the prioritization of agriculture, is not an easy struggle and will require a collective effort on the part of every citizen.”
“The soil is the greatest investment for the Agenda for Transformation in achieving a better Liberia. However, it is not an easy task, as some would perceive.
He said that his ministry supports the information dissemination on rural outreach to farmers and as such, the media must support the process.
At the end of the workshop, the Daily Observer had an interview with a few of the participants.
Journalist Philip Segbeh, from the Gbarnga Community Radio Station told our reporter that the training was very rewarding.
“We are pleased with the training program because it gives us an understanding on how to report on the sector. However, we recommend that WAAPP-Liberia work closely with community radio stations in providing necessary logistics to enhance our works to reach farmers.
Thomas Wah Wilson, an extension worker assigned to River-gee County, said that the approach to educate extension agents in reaching farmers with information was necessary to move the sector forward.
The training workshop comes after a few months where the communication strategy document of WAAPP-Liberia was validated by staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and journalists in Kakata, Margibi County. The strategy document is meant to enhance communication in the agriculture sector.