(Journalist and Pandemic Media Mentor at Internews, Christophe Hitayezu, holds webinars for Rwandan journalists to assist them in covering the pandemic.)
By Elias Hakizimana
Senior Officials of Imbaraga Farmers Organizations, Rwanda Journalists’ Association (ARJ) and Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) in partnership with stakeholders in the Agriculture sector have held a high level discussion on the effect of COVID-19 on food system in Rwanda.
Jean Paul Munyakazi, the Legal Representative of IMBARAGA that the pandemic affected agriculture sector in various categories of crops and animal resources such as fruits and vegetables, poultry and piggery farming, among others.
He said that there is a need for information sharing from the government to the farmers on the ground in order to continue successful agricultural activities.
“We also request Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Board (RAB) to bring seeds and fertilizers near the farmers prior to the upcoming Season A starting in September 2020,” Munyakazi noted.
According to Joseph Gafaranga, Executive Secretary of Imbaraga Farmers Organization, the media played a vital role in disseminating information to farmers and citizens in general during Covid-19 outbreak.
“Covid-19 caused a big loss to farmers, to bridge the gap, it requires much effort from farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) to ensure no one leaves Agriculture due to the losses happened.” Gafaranga said.
Christophe Hitayezu, Rwandan Journalist and Pandemic media mentor at Internews in his presentation said that Agriculture and food system have been under covered in the Media, according to farmers but Covid-19 has worsened the situation.
He noted that the COVID-19 Pandemic caused infodemic and daily virus trends dominated in the media coverage.
He highlighted some key challenges to effective media coverage caused by Covid-19 that include, financial barriers, public transport ban, Nature of media distribution as the majority of media houses and journalists are in urban areas while more sources are in rural areas.
He recommended media practitioners and partners to establish a strong media synergy to report about food system activities and encourage farmers to embrace digital tools.