As Malawi commences this year’s farming season, journalists have been urged to ensure that they promote good agriculture governance by exposing irregularities in the allocation of resources and policies in the entire agriculture sector.
Dr. Teresa Davis, team leader for the Support to Parliament and Media to Strengthen Governance in the Agriculture Sector (SPMSGAg) Programme, a component of the EU-funded-Kulima Promoting Farming in Malawi, said this in Mzuzu on Wednesday during the start of a three day workshop on evidence based journalism held at Grand palace Hotel in Mzuzu.
“Policy needs to be informed so that budgets can support the right thing. Many funds get diverted but where there are checks and balances, the people are protected,” said Davis.
The workshop also focused attention on the role of journalists in examining the social impact of the Malawi Government-led Farm Input Subsidy programme among other agriculture initiatives in the Country.
Government has this year allocated MK 35.5 billion towards this year’s FISP which is set to benefit 900, 000 poor people in Malawi.
This is despite concerns over the FISP Programme by Malawi’s academia and economic experts under the Economics Association of Malawi who argue that programme is overly costly and not informed by research on the real challenges facing the country’s poor farming households.
And media trainer and Editor-in-Chief at Times Group, George Kasakula urged the journalists to maintain high ethical and proper coverage of the agriculture sector.
“We are there to enlighten the public. There are various challenges, we need to try to work around them. There are issues of people churning out propaganda. But those challenges should not stop us from doing our job of which is to enlighten the public on how they are being governed and agriculture is one area that we must always try to do well,”
Kasakura further advised:”We do not talk much about agriculture, but we talk about politics. Let’s also consider putting agriculture as one of the most important beats.”
The workshop, funded by European Union has been conducted in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.