Achieving zero hunger in Africa, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), requires partnerships and engagement between researchers, policy makers, and communities. The media can play an important role in communicating research to policy makers and communities. Journalists can also be a critical voice in holding policy makers accountable to the commitments they have made in national and continental agreements to achieve food and nutrition security. FSNet-Africa spoke to two Malawian journalists – Benadetta Chiwanda Mia from MIJ FM Radio and Faith Kaunde, a writer for The Nation newspaper – to understand how the media contributes to achieving Zero Hunger in Africa.
What does World Food Day mean to you as a journalist?
Faith: World food day is an important day for the world. This is a day for action against hunger, when people around the world come together with different ways to overcome hunger.
Benadetta: As a journalist, World Food Day means a lot to me, as it provides a mirror to reflect on how much journalism and the media is doing towards making the world food secure.
What role does the media play in agriculture, climate change, and food security and nutrition?
Faith: The media plays a vital role in building awareness and influencing public opinion. My role goes beyond conventional reporting. A strong media helps enable people to engage in society by offering useful sources of information for people to make informed decisions. The media can only play a leading role in informing the wider public if they themselves are aware of and knowledgeable about food security and nutrition challenges.
Benadetta: There is still a long way to go for Malawi in reaching out to the masses with relevant, upto-date, high-content information on modern farming, food security, and climate change, and for communities to embrace new ways of doing things. I believe there is always room for improvement in reporting on agriculture, food security, and climate change, as these issues are central to human survival.
What role does the media play in influencing food security and nutrition policies?
Faith: A journalist needs to be available when policies on food security and nutrition are being tabled. There’s a need to provide the policymakers with research findings and allow them to make decisions based on facts. As a journalist, I have a role to play in influencing politicians to make the right decisions about food security and nutrition.
Benadetta: Food security is both a political and economic issue for states such as Malawi, whose economy relies mainly on agriculture. The Malawian media scores low in reporting on policy issues. As a result, farmers have not taken up these policies, because they were not disseminated to them in a way that they could understand. Most engagements with farmers happen at the policy implementation level. There is a need to intensify engagement between stakeholders, policymakers, and the media at the policy-formulation level to enable the media to link policies with beneficiaries. This will ensure that farmers are already aware and take ownership of these policies during implementation.