Contrary to conventional farming, which is more capital-intensive, agroecology is knowledge-intensive as it emphasizes human and environmental health, as well as sustainable techniques for growing, processing, and marketing food. Through participatory learning techniques that encourage creativity and the adoption of new information among farming communities, agroecology offers the chance to combine indigenous and scientific knowledge. Indigenous knowledge can be used by scientists to innovate and develop techniques that can create resilient systems that are distinctive to a given area and address pressing issues on Agroecology.
The media, particularly journalists and communicators, have not been adequately active in influencing public opinion on agroecology despite the dedication of small-scale farmers to scaling up agroecology in Uganda through practice change and policy influencing. “Small-scale farmers in Uganda believe that if the media started supporting agroecology, people would start eating healthier food and would become aware of the harmful effects of industrial or conventional agriculture on the environment and people's health. As more people switched to eating the healthy foods that small-scale farmers produce, this would also benefit both the health of the general public and the incomes of small-scale farmers.” Hakim Baliraine, National Chairperson, ESAFF Uganda. According to him, there is a need for journalists and communicators to first embrace and appreciate the notion that agroecology is what the community needs for them to successfully sell it out to the masses.
Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda is looking forward to building a network of journalists and communicators around Uganda and Africa to work with small-scale farmers. This will be even more meaningful when journalists and communicators enroll and take up the online course that ESAFF Uganda’s offers. This is especially important as it will contribute to the national and continental transition to agroecology through disseminating information.
This course is part of ESAFF Uganda’s contribution to up scaling Agroecology in Uganda in order to achieve equitable and sustainable food systems as per the FAO’s Scaling up Agroecology Initiative.
The course offers a uniquely blended-learning approach, combining lively interactive in-person workshops with individual online study, practical field-based activities, and the chance to apply what you’re learning in your job.
The course will begin by bringing together 20 active Journalists and Communicators from across the country for an in-person kick-off workshop in Kampala to start their journey of learning about agroecology and the latest techniques of reporting and communicating it. To ensure learning continues outside of workshops, participants will participate in bi-monthly webinars, carry out writing projects, and have access to the online learning modules and materials.
Five weeks into the course, the journalists and communicators will be exposed to the different agroecological farming practices by small-scale farmers. At the conclusion of the course, they will have another in-person workshop in Kampala to share their experience and showcase their work and how advanced their knowledge.
All applicants in the first cohort must be working with a registered media organization/company in Uganda and must be residents in Uganda. Applicants must be able to effectively communicate in the English language because the course is conducted in English.
All selected participants will receive a fully funded scholarship from the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators and ESAFF Uganda. This scholarship includes travel and lodging costs, field visit costs, internet, and course materials. However, the participants who do not complete all course activities in the 12 weeks will not attend the grand finale and will not receive a certificate of completion.
ESAFF Uganda called for applications in July 2022 from journalists and communicators. Applications were assessed basing on the eligibility of the applicants considering that they were working for registered media organizations/companies in Uganda, were recommended by the organization/company, were committed to personal and professional growth and were passionate to learning about agroecology.
The course is designed in five modules to model journalists and communicators into the best agroecology-focused journalists and communicators. At the end of each of these modules, an assessment will be conducted to evaluate the learners’ understanding of the module.
As part of this course, a field trip to small-scale farmers’ farms will be conducted for the learners to interact with a variety of agroecological practices. Thereafter, they will have a chance to interact and share their experiences with members of different agroecological demonstration sites, community agroecology schools and agroecology clubs in learning institutions.