(From left) CNC3 Cameraman Verne Tikasingh, Food Production Minister – Devant Maharaj, Guardian Reporter Shaliza Hassanali and CNC3 Reporter Khamal Georges. Photo: Vindra Gopaul-Boodan
National media played an important role in spurring and generating interest in the agricultural sector. Coverage of the agricultural sector has the potential to spur investments and agri-entrepreneurship.
These were among the statements made by Food Production Minister Senator Devant Maharaj, who delivered the keynote at the fourth Excellence in Agricultural Journalism Awards, hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Cardi) on Saturday night at the Capital Plaza, Port-of-Spain.
He said the sector expanded by 5.1 per cent in 2013 from the previous year and the contribution of agriculture to the GDP increased by 77 per cent from 2009 to 2013.
Maharaj said there has been a reduction in food imports from 2010 to 2013, while food inflation is down to 7.3 per cent since November 2013.
Maharaj said 2014 has been designated the international year of family farms. Smallholder family farms produce four-fifths of the developing world’s food, according to statistics cited by Maharaj.
“These women and men are key contributors to global, regional and national food security. The aim of this United Nations designated year of celebrations is to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming.”
In the same address, Maharaj also expressed some disappointment over the choice of stories awarded, however. He said several awards went to journalists who highlighted negative aspects of the sector. Acknowledging that journalists cover all areas of agricultural activity, he said there must be balance in their coverage.
Speaking with the Guardian after the ceremony, Maharaj said he wants to know what criteria are used by IICA/CARDI to select winning entries.
He said several journalists had told him that they had no knowledge that there was a competition on or how to enter.“There are several reporters writing positive things about the sector and they know nothing about these awards. I, however, congratulate the current winners and I would like to see more people taking part.”
Guardian Media Ltd received the award for overall excellence in agricultural journalism. Among the individual winners were:
Sunday 16th February, 2014
By: Shastri Boodan