Opened Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Journalism Awards launched

The Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Ghana Chapter, has launched its second media awards in Accra, with a call on interested journalists to submit their applications for the competition.

OFAB, an initiative of African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), is a platform that provides an opportunity for biotechnology stakeholders to network, share knowledge and experiences.

It also allows them to explore new avenues of bringing the benefits of biotechnology to the African farmer and investor.

The award aims at recognising exemplary journalism that stimulates best practices in the adoption of agricultural technologies; particularly agricultural biotechnology.

The OFAB-Ghana Chapter is among eight networks established by AATF in eight other African countries.

This year’s awards ceremony expected to be held in September in Burkina Faso, would recognise three outstanding journalists in three categories: print/online magazine, radio and television.

The deadline for the submission of entries is June 30.

The 2017/2018 OFAB Awards categories include Agricultural Biotechnology Impact Story Award, Agricultural Biotechnology Journalist of the year Award, Emerging Biotechnology Journalist Award (18 to 25 years), Biotechnology Blogger Award and Agricultural Biotechnology Documentary Award.

OFAB Ghana, which was launched in May 2013, has been partnering with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS), and the AATF to recognise journalists who have excelled in reporting on biotechnology.

Mr Roland Affail-Money, the GJA President, lauded OFAB for organising the award competition for journalists in the area of scientific reporting.

He expressed concern over the recent spate of attacks on journalists such as the Investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeywa Anas.

Professor Walter Alhassan, a former Director-General, CSIR, speaking at OFAB stakeholders meeting and the 2018 OFAB Media Awards launch, said how the media repackaged and delivered the information from their encounters with stakeholders would make the difference between science/evidence-based information delivery and misinformation or fear-mongering.

“Sadly, on issues of modern biotechnology it is the latter, given the low science culture of society that sells fast,” he added.

He said the media had a role in creating the necessary awareness in the farmer for new technology and for its use.

“Research must constantly engage the media at various stages of technology development to ensure that they understand for the right information to be disseminated,” Prof Alhassan stated.

Dr Daniel Osei Ofosu, Research Scientist at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), said the OFAB Award was to enable scientists tell their stories through the pen of the journalist in a practical but very simple way.

Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, OFAB National Coordinator, and a Senior Scientists at CSIR – Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STERI), who gave an overview of the OFAB Award, said the award was meant to recognise the critical roles that journalists played in reporting agricultural issues – especially biotechnology.

He said the award also sought to close the gap between scientists, policy makers, journalists and the public.

Madam Mary Ama Kudom-Agyemang, Environmental Communicator and Journalist, and Mr Joseph Opoku Gakpo, Multimedia Group Limited Journalist, were the only two journalists from Ghana, who were part of the 2017 OFAB Award winners, which was held in Kampala, Uganda.

Madam Kudom-Agyemang urged journalists to take a closer look at the agriculture sector in order to bring out challenges bedevilling the sector for redress by stakeholders; stating that the media existed to serve the interest of the country as a whole.

The theme for the stakeholders’ meeting was “Exemplary Journalism, Credible Science Reporting and Better Public Understanding of Science, Technology and Innovation.”

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