Agricultural experts are urging journalists to play a crucial role in informing policymakers about the challenges faced by the sector in order to facilitate sustainable growth. Dr Olufemi Oladunni, the Executive Director/CEO of the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), emphasized the need for agricultural journalists to provide policymakers with up-to-date information on the sector’s challenges and opportunities. This will enable policymakers to make informed decisions that can propel the agricultural sector to new heights.
Speaking at the 2023 National Conference on Agricultural Journalism in Abuja, Dr Oladunni highlighted the vast potential of Nigeria’s agriculture sector. He stressed that if properly utilized, the sector could contribute significantly to the nation’s development. Not only could it create numerous employment opportunities across various agricultural value chains, but it could also improve the livelihoods of farmers and other stakeholders.
However, Dr Oladunni lamented that the agricultural sector in Nigeria is plagued by longstanding issues such as low productivity and high post-harvest losses. These problems have hindered the sector’s growth and reduced the return on agricultural investments. He attributed these challenges to the inadequate state of infrastructure, including feeder roads, irrigation facilities, electricity, and agricultural mechanization.
Dr Oladunni believes that agricultural journalism can be a catalyst for change in the sector. He outlined several crucial roles for agricultural journalists to play in transforming the industry. First and foremost, they must raise awareness and advocate for the prioritization of agriculture at all levels of society. He emphasized that a lack of investment and divestment in the sector have contributed to stakeholders’ indifference toward agriculture. To address this, agricultural journalism needs to lead the charge in promoting public investment in the sector and fostering a business-friendly environment.
Moreover, agricultural journalists should keep policymakers informed about the challenges faced by different actors in the agricultural sector. By amplifying the voices of stakeholders, especially rural farmers, they can drive the development of targeted policies and interventions. Dr Oladunni also highlighted the need to make agriculture more attractive to the youth, who currently show little interest in the sector. Innovative content showcasing modern agricultural practices and technologies that promise higher productivity and returns on investment can inspire young people to engage with agriculture.
In addition, agricultural journalism can bridge the information gap between researchers and practitioners. By disseminating research findings and facilitating communication between researchers and practitioners, journalists can contribute to the development of the sector. Access to timely and accurate information is crucial for trading profitably and making informed decisions within the agricultural commodity value chain. Agricultural journalism can also serve as a platform for voluntary, self-directed learning for farmers and other stakeholders, contributing to the achievement of sustainable development goals and overall economic growth.
In conclusion, agricultural experts are calling on journalists to play an active role in informing policymakers about the challenges and opportunities in the agriculture sector. By prioritizing agriculture, raising awareness, advocating for public investment, and bridging the information gap, agricultural journalism can contribute to the sustainable growth of the sector. With the right policies and interventions, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has the potential to thrive and drive the nation’s development.