Over 20 Journalists recently converged in Lilongwe, Malawi for a two day Media Sensitisation workshop to learn about Climate Change, Climate Smart Agriculture and agriculture related business opportunities that come with adverse climatic conditions. The workshop which was officially opened by the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Information and Civic Education, Mr Luckie Sikwese, who was representing the SADC Chair-Malawi was held from 10th June - 11th June 2014 at Crossroads Lodge in Lilongwe.
The SADC Secretariat through the Directorate of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) under its Programme on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA-EAC-SADC) Region organised the workshop.Participation to the workshop drew Journalists from both print and electronic media from 13 SADC Member States and was centred on sensitising them about what Climate Change is, its effects and how communities, particularly the farmers, can adapt by practising Climate Smart Agriculture.The Journalists were also sensitised on entrepreneurial opportunities that are associated with Climate Change and how they can use this information to educate farmers about such opportunities with a view to helping them improve their yields and in turn ensure food security at both national and regional levels.
SADC Secretariat called upon the Journalists to embrace a paradigm shift in their reportage from the current practice of reporting on negative aspects of Climate Change to reporting on business opportunities that would help farmers make informed choices in times of bad weather conditions.The Secretariat reiterated the need for positive reporting which should focus on opportunities such as Climate Smart Agriculture through which farmers can practise crop rotation, inter-cropping, minimum tillage, soil cover etc. Further, positive reporting should highlight business linkages in the supply chain with emphasis on value addition.
At the end of the workshop, the Journalists went on an excursion to Nathenje and Bunda areas located on the outskirts of Lilongwe to visit projects under the National Association for Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM) and Total Land Care. At Nathenje, NASFAM teaches farmers Conservation Agriculture while at Bunda Total Land Care engages farmers in reforestation, sustainable agricultural practices, irrigation, enterprise development, water and sanitation and use of Rocket Stoves.
To augment their desire to upscale reporting on Climate Change issues, participants formed a network called Journalists’ Network on Climate Change (JNCC) and pledged to change the reporting agenda to include stories on Climate Change and business opportunities that arise from change in weather patterns. The Network further committed to ensure there was improved dissemination of Climate Change related information by the media to all stakeholders.