Communicating Agricultural Research in Africa and Asia

Communicating Agricultural Research in Africa and Asia

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Projects-Direct.Net is currently providing media and communications services to the ‘Guiding Investments in Sustainable Agricultural Markets in Africa’ (GISAMA) project, in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  

The GISAMA project is keen to make its work better known amongst development practitioners and regional leaders. The project views success as providing research findings that are collaboratively developed and disseminated to the public and private sectors for consideration in policy and private investment decision-making. 

The goals of the project are:

  • To see many more small farmers in Africa linked up to agricultural markets that assist them to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

  • To see more stability in the food system and more urban consumers in Africa getting the food that they need.

  • To see the right kind of public and private investments need to be put in place to make it happen.

The project has already achieved success in communicating the project’s research findings to policy makers. Therefore the purpose of the consultancy is to reach the general public, especially small farmers in four or five target countries (Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, and either Malawi and/or Tanzania) and communicate the findings of the research and reframe the debate on increasing stability in the food system in Africa.

The research has investigated the structure, performance and future potential of staple food and horticultural markets, focusing on maize, cassava, sorghum, cotton and vegetables and assessed the impact of investments such as rural road construction on market development and on poor households’ access to those markets. 

The press articles will reframe some of the conventional wisdom that is often wrong or at least only partially accurate about who benefits and who loses from certain kinds of agricultural programmes. For this aspect it will be important to get the journalists to speak or interview the local and international researchers who have worked on this project in advance of developing their initial story ideas. 

Previous experience of communicating agricultural research 

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While working for Panos London between September 2011 and December 2012 Tim was involved in the Agricultural Policy and Research Communications Programme to Global Development Network’s (GDN) global research project, ‘Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia’, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This project aimed to help shape North-South and South-South debates on agricultural policies. Providing all communications support for two workshops in Nairobi and Colombo to launch five policy briefing papers, covering Irrigation and Water Use Efficiency; Agricultural Pricing and Public Procurement; Managing Agricultural Commercialisation; Long-term Challenges to Food Security and Rural Livelihoods; and Improving Effectiveness, Efficiency and Sustainability of Fertilizer Use. Attending the event were 40 leading representatives from the governments of Kenya, Ghana and Zambia, the African Development Bank, OECD, regional research institutes, agribusiness as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The programme included inviting Kenyan and regional press, organising the press conference structure, filming the event, writing press invitations, and press releases, interviewing keynote speakers for the GDN website, and chasing the media on post event coverage. The one hour event has produced 11 national press articles in the African media. 

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A similar event was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in December 2012 for the South Asia region. In both cases Tim developed the press materials, press statements, press interview availability, and monitored all journalists' output including over 2,500 online responses by readers and site visitors.

The coverage of the event was picked up by 30 Indian websites as well as the national Sri Lankan media, such as Daily News. 

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