Agriculture Biotechnology

Mr Zadok Kwame Gyesi, a reporter with the Graphic Online, subsidiary of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, has emerged winner of the 2020 Open Forum Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) media award in Accra.

Mr Gyesi’s winning story throws more light on some groundbreaking progress that Ghanaian agricultural scientists at the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute and the Crop Research Institute, have made concerning developing biotech crops.

The other two outstanding awardees were Madam Benedicta Gyimaah Folley, a development journalist with the New Times Corporation who grabbed the 1st runner up in the print/online category, whiles Madam Francisca Dickson Arhin of GHOne Television received the special recognition award.

The three journalists from the print/online, TV, and radio category were honoured for creating the awareness on biotechnology and genetically modified organisms in Ghana and Africa as a whole, and therefore received plaques, cash, and hampers as their prizes.

OFAM media awards provide an opportunity to enhance knowledge-sharing and awareness creation of biotechnology that will raise understanding and appreciation of the technology and contribute to building an enabling environment for informed and timely decision making.

The awarding criteria were based on key considerations such as the scientific accuracy in reporting biotech-related stories, initiative, originality, clarity of interpretation, and value in fostering a better public understanding of agricultural biotechnology and its impacts.

Speaking at the event, Professor Kwame Victor Kwame Agyemang, Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), called for effective collaboration between scientists and the media to help disseminate findings to the ordinary people.

He noted that scientists were not good at communicating their findings to the public due to a lack of requisite skills to breakdown scientific findings.

Prof Agyemang, who chaired the ceremony, reiterated that it was difficult to translate some findings into the local dialect and it would take people who are skilled to develop a scientific language that was easy for people to understand, hence the need to honour journalists who work at the scientific front.

Dr Richard Ampadu-Agyei, National Coordinator of OFAB Ghana also noted that considering the factors that affect agriculture including climate change, there was a need for stakeholders to focus on innovations; innovations in science and technology.

He said one area that needed critical attention was seeds, as such, it was time to embrace technologies that ensure farmers of enhanced productivity, describing this as an interest to every farmer.

“As we move forward, we move in technology, but unfortunately the application of science and technology on the continent of Africa is abysmal”, he added.

Mrs Linda Asante-Agyei, Vice President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) underscored the need for journalists to always put out credible and well-balanced stories that would enable the public to make informed choices.

“Do we have improved seeds and if we have, are they available to farmers; what is the knowledge levels of our farmers on improved seeds; and how involved are our farmers in developing improved seeds by our cherished researchers?” she asked.

Mrs Asante-Agyei stated that in finding answers to these questions journalists should be guided by the ethics of the profession and ensure that their credible and balanced stories would influence policy and provide education that would improve the work of farmers.

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