Media That’s All About Agriculture

 

This week, MediaProd, a company specialised in communication for agricultural and rural development, announced the premier of an initiative that will focus on youth agricultural entrepreneurship initiatives in Africa , to be broadcast through the web television (also known as web TV). The project is supported by CTA, and led by a group of young African video journalists and agricultural specialists who have worked in the agricultural sector for many years with a good knowledge of youth in agriculture.

The initiative aims at showcasing youth engaged in agriculture , in the hope that this will encourage others to become involved or at least take the first steps. Features will include youth interviews, testimonials and stories from the field, Agribusiness TV will address the following questions: How did these young people achieve success in agribusiness? What were the key factors which made their business idea work? What were the challenges faced and how did they manage to overcome them? What is the current status of youth in agribusiness in Africa, particularly in each of the various countries of focus? Where are the opportunities and how to seize them?

Showcasing farming through television, radio, film, art, and print can help the public engage in a dialogue about agriculture, nutrition, food justice, and sustainability. These forms of media allow information to travel across geographic boundaries and reach a wide audience.

In developing countries, for example, radio is often a central source of information with roughly 75 percent of households having access to a radio. And in countries with low literacy rates, radio can reach people who would not otherwise have access to information about agriculture. Worldwide, there are more than 44,000 radio stations.

In addition, farmers across the globe are accessing information via their cell and smart phones. The World Cocoa Foundation uses the app CocoaLink to inform cocoa farmers about farm safety, crop disease prevention, crop marketing, and more. iCow from M-Farm enables farmers to keep track of each cow’s individual gestation so that farmers don’t miss an opportunity to expand their herd. Similarly, Tigo Kilimo provides farmers in Tanzania with crucial weather information to properly manage their crops.

Food Tank this week highlighted 35 interesting media projects around the world.

Radio/Podcast

An Organic Conversation is a weekly show based in Mill Valley, CA and available through both radio stations and as a podcast. For the past five years, the show has featured segments focusing on sustainability, environmental challenges, innovation in agriculture, and other issues.

Farm Radio International is a Canadian-based nonprofit working with hundreds of radio partners throughout Africa to shine light on rural communities, smallholder farmers, and the threat of food insecurity and poverty. The organisation offers training for broadcasters and helps radio stations measure and improve their impact.

Farm Radio Trust works to support agriculture development in rural Malawi through radio. Their priorities include training, capacity building, and participation through information and communication technologies (ICTs), researching and documenting evidence-based agriculture practices, and promoting partnerships within radio and outside industries.

Harvest Public Media, a collaboration between public radio stations throughout the Midwestern United States, reports on food and agriculture stories. In addition to providing day-to-day coverage, the organisation manages a blog and provides investigative reports on subjects ranging from working conditions for poultry workers to food prices.

Heritage Radio Network delves into the U.S. food system and provides a platform for artisans, chefs, activists, policy experts, and farmers to share their perspectives on eating, food production, and the future of agriculture. Shows include The Main CourseTap RootsEat to the BeatCatch It, Cook It & Eat It!, and Greenhorns Radio.

Sustainable World Radio: Ecology & Permaculture Podcasts produces podcasts centred on permaculture, organics, and the environment. Each episode is an invitation to listen in on conversations with experts as they discuss the importance of sustainability in the food system.

National Public Radio’s blog, The Salt, dives into food topics such as farm to plate, nutrition advice, the latest news in food policy, and more. From audio clips to articles, The Salt satisfies every need for on-the-go, digestible food content.

The Organic Farmer Radio broadcasts two weekly segments that deal with issues facing farmers in Kenya. A project of the Farmer Community Programme, the show interviews local farmers, showcases the latest research, and dispenses agriculture information and advice.

Television and Film

Food Forward is a PBS documentary that follows food rebels. This group, which includes farmers, chefs, scientists, and educators, attempts to meet the challenges of the American food system.

Shamba Shape-Up is a reality show that focuses on struggling farms throughout Kenya. The show’s host visits different farms, meets with the farmers to learn about the issues they are facing, then interviews expert guests to provide advice. Currently, the show boasts more than 10 million viewers weekly.

Food Chains premiered at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and has become one of the most talked about agriculture documentaries since. The film follows a group of farm workers in Florida as they push for the supermarket industry to implement their Fair Food program, which improves pay and working conditions for farm labourers.

In Defense of Food, a documentary based on journalist and activist Michael Pollan’s New York Times best selling book, simplifies conflicting media reports about what it means to eat healthy. Through traveling the world and visiting various supermarkets, Pollan debunks nutrition myths and makes adequate nutrition a digestible concept for every consumer.

Khwada tells the dramatic story of Indian shepherds and the struggle they face over the acquisition of their land by the Indian forest department. The film has been praised for its realistic portrayal of a “shepherd family and the obstacles they face while struggling to make ends meet.”

Land Rush, a BBC documentary, follows the Sosumar project, a partnership between the African Development Bank, Africa’s leading sugar producer Illovo Sugar, an American agricultural developer, and Mali’s government. The film portrays the development of the project as thousands of farmers throughout Mali are confronted with the possibility of losing their land.

More Than Honey is a documentary by Swiss filmmaker Marcus Imhoof that delves into the world of bees and the people that keep them. The film ultimately tells the story of mankind’s relationship with, and reliance on, nature.

Occupy the Farm covers the social movement resisting the commercial development of public land by telling the story of 200 urban farmers who plant crops as an act of protest. The ensuing battle that takes place between the protestors and the University of California raise important questions about food sovereignty and university-level education and research.

Real Food Media Project is made up of two core projects. Food MythBusters offers an alternative point of view on the standard agribusiness conversation. Real Food Films includes an international film competition that centres on sustainability, agriculture, food, and more.

The Moo Man is a British documentary that focuses on the struggles of an organic dairy farm in Sussex, England. The film was selected as one of the competitors in the World Cinema Documentary category at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Magazines/News Sites

Acres U.S.A. Magazine is a national magazine in the United States focused on sustainable agriculture. For more than four decades, the magazine has covered diverse topics including cover cropping, composting, insect control methods, and farm value-added processing.

Agriculturas: Experiences in Agroecology is a Portuguese language magazine that is published quarterly by the Advisory Services for Alternative Agriculture Projects in Brazil (AS-PTA). The magazine spreads awareness about agro-ecology and encourages knowledge sharing, collaboration, and the social implications of sustainable agriculture.

Civil Eats, named the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 publication of the year, publishes articles that address critical issues about the food system through a daily news format. A range of diverse topics, including labor issues, organic agriculture, the environmental impact of the food system, food waste, and much more, are covered by the online publication.

Commons Magazine focuses on stories highlighting the philosophy that some resources ought to be shared and managed by the community, also known as the commons movement. In addition to covering social justice and environmental issues, the magazine examines agriculture through the lens of true cost accounting, sustainability, and food justice.

The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) was founded in late 2010 to provide in-depth stories on a wide variety of food system, agriculture, and environmental topics through an independent, non-profit model. FERN’s news tool, the Ag Insider, is a daily newsletter covering topics such as agriculture business and policy changes.

Farming Matters is a publication of AgriCultures Network, a global network that strives to facilitate knowledge between practitioners, academics, and communities of agroecology. The magazine explores agroecology, family farming, and other topics.

GRACE Communications Foundation promotes sustainable solutions to food, energy, and water issues. Its Sustainable Table project spreads awareness about the benefits of local agriculture and celebrates sustainable food. GRACE’s Eat Well Guide serves as a convenient resource for consumers who are looking for restaurants who source food locally across the United States.

Grist, a nonprofit news source, has offered environmental news with a sense of wry humor since 1999. Topics focus around the role of agriculture and the food system in environmental degradation and climate change.

Indie Farmer is a United Kingdom-based magazine dedicated to farming, food, and culture. It provides readers with interviews from small farmers in addition to photo stories featuring various farm and food ventures.

Modern Farmer recognises the increasing interest and importance of agriculture to people from multiple walks of life. With that in mind, the publication, both online and print, is a source of independent journalism that focuses on food, farm, and culture.

Mother Jones is a nonprofit news outlet covering topics such as politics, education, food, and more. Tom Philpott, an award-winning food writer with Mother Jones since 2011, covers a variety of topics pertaining to food politics in his blog. From the latest in food science, to climate change, to practical nutrition advice, Philpott encompasses all topics foodies and environmentalists alike are interested in exploring.

The Organic Farmer (TOF) is a Kenyan magazine that provides information, especially to smallholder farmers, about farming practices that are ecologically friendly. The organisation also offers a radio program, videos, and an Ask TOF section on their website for farmers to learn more about organic farming.

Urban Agriculture Magazine, a Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture & Food Security initiative, provides a platform for knowledge transfer and discussion of urban agriculture research, news, and policy.

Participant Media is a media company that offers viewers compelling stories that inspire social change. Media projects include movies such as Food, Inc. and An Inconvenient Truth, the popular digital division TakePart, and their television network Pivot.

The Farmers and Food System Leaders of Tomorrow

Repost from Food Tank

Young people are the farmers and food system leaders of tomorrow. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), young people are increasingly abandoning agriculture and rural areas in search of better prospects, which makes creating opportunities for young people to contribute to their agricultural communities an urgent need.

Today, young people can explore career options in permaculture design, biodynamic farming, communication technologies, forecasting, marketing, logistics, quality assurance, urban agriculture projects, food preparation, environmental sciences, and more.

In the coming year at Food Tank, we are focusing our work on the world’s next generation of agricultural leaders—amplifying and deepening our research, growing our online community, and continuing to encourage an energized global dialogue on the important issue of youth in agriculture in partnership with IFAD.

With an aging population of farmers, it’s clear that agriculture needs to attract more young people. Half of the farmers in the United States are 55 or older, and the average age of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa is roughly 60 years old. The United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) predicts that, globally, there will be 74.2 million unemployed young people this year, an increase of 3.8 million since 2007.

The agricultural sector offers great potential for job creation; effectively publicizing the market’s open and varied employment opportunities can radically change youths’ perception of agriculture and as a result, radically change agriculture’s lasting impact.

Now, more than ever, we need to help educate, motivate, prepare, and support the world’s next generation of agricultural leaders and farmers.

“I would ask that—not only in my own country, but across the world—opportunities are created for us [young people] to prove that, yes, we can do it,” Sandra Sandoval, a young rural businesswoman from El Salvador, told IFAD.

In a recent report, IFAD identified six main challenges that youth face in entering the agriculture field: insufficient access to knowledge, information, and education; limited access to land; inadequate access to financial services; difficulties accessing jobs in agriculture field; limited access to markets; and limited involvement in policy dialogue.

To combat these issues, IFAD is investing in youth, especially rural youth. The programs IFAD supports enable young, rural people to gain access to the resources and tools necessary to be productive and enter agricultural markets.

In Zanzibar, farmer field schools allow new farmers to learn agricultural practices—and to mentor their peers. Farmer field schools use participatory group approaches to teach people how to farm and to tackle agricultural challenges, and, as a result, increase yields and knowledge. “Since I joined this group, I am no longer dependent on my family,” Zeyana Ali Said, a rural poultry farmer in Zanzibar, told IFAD. “Now I completely depend on myself. Before, I was getting about five or seven eggs from each hen. But now I get up to 25 eggs [per hen each month].”

The IFAD Rural Youth Talents Program in South America seeks to publicize and share knowledge from lessons learned in rural youth agriculture programs. The goal is to establish and strengthen networks of youth engaged in food and agriculture, as well involve more youth in the field.

In Uganda, IFAD supports the Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) project, which improves nutrition and food knowledge through school gardens in ten primary and five secondary schools.

In Saint Lucia, the Helping Out Our Primary and Secondary Schools (HOOPSS) project has created school gardens in more than a dozen schools, and teaches children techniques such as organic fertilizer use and rainwater harvesting.

In Madagascar, the PROSPERER project promotes rural entrepreneurship through apprenticeships that include training and marketing materials in the regions of Sofia, Itasy, Analamanga, Haute Matsiatra, and Batovavy Fltovinagny.

In Brazil, the National Confederation of Agricultural Workers (Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura – CONTAG) established a youth knowledge program to enhance the skills of young farmers. The organization provides a free online training course for young farmers, which includes information on family farming, health, and labor laws.

Through Food Tank’s partnership with IFAD, we hope to strengthen the number of youth involved in agriculture fields at all levels. The time to invest in the agricultural leaders of tomorrow is now.

by Danielle Nierenberg and Sarah Small

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