The role of the media in informing, inspiring influencing change, educating and shaping the national and international agenda, can never be ignored. Better still, media practitioners are great partners in development matters and very important in reaching out to the public.
However, sometime there are knowledge gaps, which hinder journalists from reporting the right things at the right time, and in the correct way. This is especially because media industry is dynamic, and journalists are specialists in communication, not necessarily in technical matters.
In order to build capacity of agriculture and business journalists, MARKUP Kenya held a two-day workshop at KEPHIS headquarters in Nairobi. The workshop brought together 17 media practitioners from different parts of the country, with a bias of the counties in which the program is implemented. The main aim of this workshop was to sensitise journalists on Food Safety matters, from different aspects, and how to cover Food Safety as a topical issue which deserves media attention.
Key speakers included KEPHIS MD Theophilus Mutui, who officially opened the workshop. Prof Mutui called on partnership with the media, saying objective reporting was key to development. He noted that the EU is the main market for Kenya’s horticultural exports, thus need to ensure standards are observed through out the value chain. Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, and thus the need to safeguard it by using the right pesticides and adhering to food safety and market requirements.
In her presentation Pest Control Service Products Board (PCPB) MD Dr Esther Kimani asked medics to report any illnesses which would be suspected to have resulted from use of harmful pesticides. This way, she noted, PCPB would be able to collect data and decide on which pesticides to ban in the country. Her sentiments come at a time when MARKUP Kenya is organizing for a Pesticides Awareness campaign. The campaign, is geared to creating awareness on using the right pesticides, at the right time, in the correct way, and observing measures such as intervals between spraying and harvesting.
The journalists were also taken through an overview and status of Kenya’s horticulture and nuts industry by Josephine Simiyu of Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD), while Lucy Ikonya of Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) trained them on Understanding the Requirements of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement and emerging issues.
Other topics covered include; Understanding the requirements of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures agreement and the emerging issues, Understanding Aflatoxins and its management in the nuts, and herbs and spices sector and understanding Food Safety in terms of communicating it and giving it media coverage.
The workshop has now brought together a pool of journalists and experts who will continue working together in driving MARKUP Kenya’s agenda of promoting competitiveness and market access for Kenya produce locally, regionally and internationally.