Three Ghanaian female journalists were last Thursday honoured at the Open Forum Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) media awards for their dedication to science reporting, particularly on emerging technologies in agriculture.
They are Benedicta Gyimaah Folley of the Ghanaian Times; Gloria Anderson of GTV, and Joyce Gyekye of Radio Ghana.
Folley won the print category of the contest whereas Anderson and Gyekye won the TV and Radio categories respectively.
They were awarded with plaques, cash prices and hampers.
Their reportage focused on agricultural biotechnology, particularly on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and how it could contribute to Ghana’s food security strategies.
The award scheme is aimed at recognising exemplary journalism that stimulates best practices in the adoption of agricultural technologies.
The awards, which is in its 5th edition and organised by OFAB-Ghana chapter, was on the theme: “Credible and balanced Science Reporting in Readiness for Biotech Seed Development”.
The OFAB Media Awards, an initiative of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), provide an opportunity to enhance knowledge-sharing and awareness creation of agricultural biotechnology that will raise understanding and appreciation of the technology and contribute to building an enabling environment for informed and timely decision making.
Speaking at the event, a former awardee of the contest, Mrs Ama Amankwah Baafi, a Staff Writer with the Graphic Communications Group Limited, encouraged Ghanaian journalists to prioritise science-based agricultural reporting.
“Agriculture, needs to be given the necessary attention as it is often touted as the bedrock of the economy,” she said.
In addition, she noted, “As Ghanaian journalists, we have a serious and a big role to play in correcting the misconceptions about the use of science and bio-technology in agriculture in Ghana.”
For Mrs Baafi, many countries had achieved a lot with agricultural biotechnology and that it was about time Ghanaian journalists “put out the facts on its (biotechnology) importance so people will appreciate it better.”
She expressed the concern that agricultural biotechnology reporting had received less media attention, hence many people had taken advantage of the situation to peddle falsehood about the technology.
“The topic seems to have been been relegated to the background or given limited attention and it is, therefore, time to change the narrative by reporting the facts and not rumors about what pertains within the sector,” Mrs Baafi, the multiple award winning journalist noted.
She further encouraged journalists to use their platform to facilitate dialogue on sustainable agricultural practices in Ghana, saying “it is only by creating the platform for dialogues on agric Biotechnology that we could effect policy changes.”
She also appealed to agricultural scientists not to shy away from journalists but to collaborate with them in order to make information on agricultural technologies more understandable to the public.
“Our dear agric scientists, I will also appeal to you not to shy away from the media but open up to us so we can understand the issues better and report on them,” Mrs Baafi appealed.
Credible Science Reporting
For his part, a former Director General of the CSIR, Professor Kenneth Danso, charged Ghanaian journalists to be more interested in science reporting.
He said it was only through the delivery of accurate science reporting that people will come to appreciate and understand the work of scientists, particularly when it comes to agricultural biotechnology.
For him, when journalists teamed up with scientists, it will help to address food security threats in the country and beyond.
“Biotechnology are there to solve human problems,” Prof. Danso noted, pointing out that information on the technology could only be make understandable to the public by journalists.
The National Coordinator for OFAB-Ghana, Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, said the establishment of OFAB-Ghana has helped to publish credible information on agricultural biotechnology in the country.
He added that OFAB-Ghana only engages with various stakeholders during conferences, workshops, and stakeholder meetings, to bridge the gap between scientists, policy makers and the public.
Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw said considering the threats posed by Climate Change, it was necessary to find innovative solutions such as agricultural biotechnology to address the issues of agriculture in the world, particularly in Africa.
He said OFAB-Ghana will continue to provide information on agricultural technologies, particularly genetically modified organisms to enable people to discard the various misconceptions they have about the technology.