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CGIAR awards highlight agricultural communication

Busani Bafana won the Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism (WRENmedia)
Busani Bafana won the Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism

Using farmer-to-farmer videos and the mass media to convey information about improved rice production and processing techniques, the Rice Rural Learning Initiative was presented with the Award for Outstanding Communications by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) at the recent Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.

Launched by the Africa Rice Center in 2005, the Initiative has developed 11 videos that have been translated into 33 African languages and used in 44 countries. "Even though women make up the majority of Africa's 20 to 30 million rice farmers, they are usually left on the periphery during training programmes," said Papa Abdoulaye Seck, director general of the Africa Rice Center. "By giving rural women a voice through video and by disseminating these materials through grass roots organizations and rural radio, we believe the gender barriers to learning can be partly overcome."

At the same event, Busani Bafana, a Zimbabwean journalist, won the Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism for his article, A Better Banana for Africa, which detailed efforts to tackle pests and diseases in Kenya, including the use of tissue culture technology. Bafana was praised by Terna Gyuse, IPS Africa's regional editor, for his efforts to "portray the realities of the agricultural sector, with a particular emphasis on the voices and experiences of the small farmers who are the backbone of the continent's food security."

Other award winners included ICRISAT and AVRDC for their work to improve vegetable varieties and create sustainable production systems; Jonne Rodenburg, a weed specialist at the Africa Rice Center, for his work on identifying rice varieties that are resistant to parasitic weeds; and IRRI's Irrigated Rice Breeding Team for developing hundreds of new rice varieties.

Date published: May 2010


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