In the news...

March 18th, 2013
P3130334P3130291Over twenty Ghanaian journalists gathered this past week (12-16 March) to learn about – and experience – the biosciences and plant genetics in Accra, Ghana. The B4FA Media Fellows were joined by media fellows from Autumn 2012 and a team of scientific experts and journalism mentors who engaged them in discussions about the fundamentals of genetics, science reporting, and whether the biosciences can help improve Ghanaian crops such as cassava, cowpea, rice and cocoa.

The course was not simply theoretical; the journalists had the opportunity to carry out DNA extraction and to visit the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) and a private tissue culture lab, Biochemical Products Ghana Ltd.A number of the B4FA Media Fellows have strong connections to farming or are farmers themselves. Yakubu Abdul-Majeed, a farmer and journalist from Zabzugu, Ghana, noted “I just have the passion for helping the voiceless, the deprived people, because I come from a deprived area. … Journalists play an important role in development because what they publish is read by politicians and policymakers, so the more you report about the plight of poor farmers, the more the government listens”.Augustina Apik, Editor in Chief, GBC, recalls watching her grandmother utilising her farming knowledge to collect the best seeds on her farm for the next season, an activity not unlike the scientists who look to produce improved varieties. Ms. Apik commented that even though business reporting is her primary focus, “everything has science, but we report without really knowing what science is.”

Samuel Duodu, who also recalls following his grandmother to their family farm commented “subsistence farmers would like modern methods of farming, but they lack technical assistance”. He joined the B4FA course in order to “learn how to communicate to farmers, policymakers and research institutes about how to help farmers with hybridisation, highly productive seeds and disease resistance”.

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B4FA Mentors of Science and Journalism included:
  • Abu Mustapha Dadzie, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, New Tafo
  • Alexander Augustine Abutu, Africa Science, Technology and Innovation News
  • Christopher Leaver, Oxford University
  • Daniel Otunge, African Agricultural Technology Foundation, Nairobi
  • Emmanuel Chamba, CSIR Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, Tamale
  • Eric Danquah, WACCI and University of Ghana
  • Eunice Brukum, B4FA Project Assistant Ghana
  • Ibrahim Atokple, CSIR Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, Tamale
  • Josephine Nketsia, Tabiri University of Ghana, Legon
  • Julia Vitullo Martin, Journalist
  • Kenneth Danso Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute
  • Kofi Adu Domfeh Luv FM, Kumasi
  • Maryann Eyram Acolatse, Joynews TV, Accra
  • Maxwell Asante Darko, CSIR Crop Research Institute, Kumasi
  • Paul Agu Asare Department of Crop Science, University of Cape Coast
  • Sharon Schmickle, Journalist