Writer, Producer and Presenter in the Radio Department of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Kevin Clarke, was one of two Jamaican journalists who participated in the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) in Brussels, Belgium.
The seminar focussed on the role of media in agricultural and rural development. It was held at the Bedford Hotel and Congress Centre in Brussels and targeted African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations. It was held October, 12-16.
Mr. Clarke’s Calling Farmers series on the Youth in Agriculture programme was shortlisted for a Journalism Award from a pool of 105 entries.
“I’m honoured. It’s not often that a journalist or anyone working in media gets recognition for the work you do. It felt really good to know that it was recognised and acknowledged by my peers and considered good enough to be in an international competition, so it was an honour to have been shortlisted and put up among persons doing work in the same field,” he told JIS News on his return.
He entered with a Calling Farmers series that highlighted the work of four students from Ebony Park, Clarendon, each working with a traditional crop to see how that crop could be used to make as many agro processed products as possible. The series focussed on ginger, sweet potato, cashew and dasheen, but only two segments were entered in the competition.
Calling Farmers is a five-minute JIS programme that targets farmers, and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and is aired daily on a number of local commercial radio stations.
He explained that the seminar was structured in a very interactive manner, to allow persons at different levels to network.
Writer, Producer and Presenter in the Radio Department of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Kevin Clarke, whose Calling Farmers radio series was featured as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) in Brussels, Belgium October 12-16. It was one of 14 entries shortlisted from the 105 received from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries for an award. Calling Farmers is a daily 5-minute JIS Programme aired on a number of commercial radio stations in Jamaica.
“The seminar sought to really find the link, to see how it is that the media could play a much more formative role in helping to disseminate information about agricultural and rural development, to give it a presence. This was based on the concern, worldwide, that agricultural and rural development issues weren’t being covered enough in the media and, if they were, it was really from a superficial basis and this was a problem, globally,” he recounted.
“It attempted to address this and to find ways to fix it. So, it was set up in such a way that media practitioners from all three regions were speaking with, and meeting with, persons at different levels of the agriculture sector,” he noted.
“You had extension officers, media owners, farmers. It was really a multi-sectoral approach in trying to get a better understanding of the link between the media and its role in agriculture and rural development in these countries,” he added.
Having been at the helm of the Calling Farmers programme since July, 2005, Mr. Clarke points out that Jamaica is far advanced, especially when compared with countries on the African continent.
“One of the major things I have taken away was that, Jamaica has a lot to be thankful for and there are a lot of positives that we can be happy about. In terms of the challenges we have, we are far advanced in certain areas compared to other countries, say in Africa. A lot of their problems are major developmental problems affecting the ability of their people to find enough food to eat. We, in a way, are beyond that. We can in fact feed ourselves. Some countries are having a challenge doing that,” he related.
The JIS producer, who gives extensive coverage to the Ministry of Agriculture through his programme, stated that his Brussels experience will help to improve his work.
“One thing that was pointed out is that information makes a very big difference and we have seen that in practice. It will enhance how I give out information, something as simple as dealing with scientific information. I will be more sensitive as to how that information is disseminated. I will also be more sensitive with the way we speak to and engage our farmers. We report on them and about them but, a lot of the times, we are not actually speaking with them. That is something I will be doing a lot more of,” he assured.
Former JIS Radio manager, Enthrose Campbell, agreed that the Brussels experience can only improve Mr. Clarke’s work.
“He has to strive for excellence at all times, and he will continue to improve and help us, as an Agency, produce better features,” she noted. She added that Mr. Clarke has really grown since being employed to the JIS four years ago.
The four-day trip, which included about120 experts and 14 journalists shortlisted for awards, also provided stark contrasts for the Jamaican.
“The JIS is an anomaly, because it is not typical of what exists in other countries. The structure of the JIS is very different and how it fits into the media landscape of Jamaica is completely different and is unseen anywhere else in the world. Calling Farmers, a daily programme aired on stations island wide was also considered very different from what exists in other countries”, he explained.
In extending her congratulations, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, lauded Mr. Clarke for his achievement.
“To be among the number shortlisted, out of 105 entries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, is an accomplishment. Indeed, it reinforces the work of the JIS in covering those subject areas that are developmental,” Mrs. Rowe said.
She also stated that the JIS will continue to support staff seeking opportunities to develop themselves and highlight the work of the Agency.
Also, lauding Mr. Clarke’s achievement was JIS Radio Editor, Lorraine Walker Mendez.
“I think it was a wonderful opportunity, not only for his personal development but also the Agency’s. As the agriculture reporter, he got an idea of the importance of media to the agricultural sector, in terms of disseminating information,” she commented.
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) is an ACP-EU institution working in the field of information for development. Its overall aim is to better meet the everchanging information needs of stakeholders in ACP countries.