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Louis Amede

Louis Amede reflects on the role of the media in helping to restore agriculture to the top of the development agenda (US Embassy, Côte d'Ivoire)
Louis Amede reflects on the role of the media in helping to restore agriculture to the top of the development agenda
US Embassy, Côte d'Ivoire

Promoting agriculture - the role of the media

Louis Amede from Côte d'Ivoire is general coordinator of the Journalists of Central and West Africa for Agriculture.

In Côte d'Ivoire, like most African countries, we have an agricultural economy - in fact, up to half our national budget comes from agriculture. But when I look at the manufactured products in my country, I am very concerned: the things we produce we don't eat, and the things that we consume, we don't produce. Fifty years after independence we, and many others, remain as producers of raw materials.

This is one of the biggest issues we have to address. We have to rethink our development policy in general, and especially our agricultural policy. The international food crisis and the trends of the last three years have shown us that agriculture must be placed at the centre of the region's development agenda. Greater investment in African agriculture is essential.

Agriculture means wealth, not poverty

In this context, the role of the media is critical. If we are to halve extreme hunger and poverty by 2015, we have to see and present agriculture as a business, as a dynamic force that begins at the farm and continues all the way to the market. When we talk about agriculture, we must no longer consider it as something that means poverty.

Agriculture is a business opportunity - and what other business gives such opportunities? Agriculture has formed the basis of economic and social development in most areas of my country, and in the years after independence, it was farmers who were leading wealth creation in Côte d'Ivoire, including the emblematic Félix Houphouët Boigny, our first president.

Agriculture is also a social well-being and welfare opportunity; we need to put a positive spotlight on it every time. To quote Robert B. Zoellick, the World Bank Group President, "In Sub-Saharan Africa, home to 229 million extremely poor rural people, agriculture is about much more than simple food security… A greater focus on agriculture will help boost overall economic growth and can offer multiple pathways out of poverty."

For the last 25 years, we have been missing the potential of agriculture, but now is the time to put that right. After the food crises and resulting riots, the whole world is starting to put agriculture higher up on the agenda. In Côte d'Ivoire, agriculture should be the most important component in our development strategy.

A vital role for journalists

Journalists need to be sharing all the things that can be done to improve the productivity of the agricultural sector and the incomes of those who work in it. That includes the development of a much stronger, more integrated value-chain in our region and our continent, with all the links in that value-chain put in place. We need to develop an inter-regional market in agriculture; it's very important.

Nowadays, farmers are not only information users, they become progressively also producers of information. For example, we can see that now, more than ever before, it is those working on the ground who need to validate new policies, technologies and strategies. Farmers need to share their experiences in order to help things go well and progress. Journalists need to seek out these experiences.

We need to also hear from other actors in the agricultural production chain. That means that the politicians have to play their part. The business people working in the sector also need to be involved, and when we bring out their vision and melt all that together with the voices and vision of farmers and researchers we will project a better image of agriculture in the media. When we can see good, positive coverage of agriculture, and all the people and processes along the agricultural value chain, perhaps we will also begin to see the development of stronger agriculture-based production.

Date published: September 2010


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It's impreatvie that more people make this exact point. (posted by: Butterfly)

As an investor in three different fair trade agriculture lin... (posted by: Kevindoylejones)


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