On 14th January 2016, the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) hosted the Tanzania Agricultural Journalists Forum (TAJF) training. The training which was attended by most Agricultural journalists was held at the COSTECH Conference Room.
Briefing the training participants, the Chairperson of the TAJF, Mr. Gerald Kitabu said that the training was intended to equip journalists with knowledge and skills on how to report science and agricultural biotechnology issues in the country.

“We established this forum in 2014 as a means to enhance journalists with the necessary skills that are needed in accurate reporting on agricultural sciences issues, and therefore this two-day-training conforms to the objective of its establishment,” he said.
He also noted that throughout the training, apart from learning the best methods on reporting agricultural science, journalists will be able to learn the role of Biotechnology in ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture in Tanzania along with Biosafety and regulatory requirements for genetically modified organisms in Tanzania.

The Chairperson of the TAJF, Mr. Gerald Kitabu, addresses the journalists (not pictured) during the training workshop which was held at COSTECH. On his right is the COSTECH Director General, Dr. Hassan Mshinda.

Delivering the opening remarks, the COSTECH Director General, Dr. Hassan Mshinda noted that COSTECH appreciated the role that is played by journalists in reporting science issues in the country. He observed that the impact of science reporting in the media has been increasing due to the role that the media plays. He said that a lot has been happening in agriculture sector in the country, but without the assistance from the media, the general public could not have had access of necessary information they need for their endeavor.
Dr. Mshinda noted that COSTECH has been supporting the Tanzania Science Journalists Association (TASJA) in various ways and will be happy to also support TAJF so that it can position itself to write agricultural Biotechnology information in a manner that will improve public understanding of the importance of the technology among others.

“We need the media to assist us in informing the public on what Biotechnology can offer in agriculture so that they can make informed decisions,” he said adding that countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Burkina Faso have tried the technology and they are now reaping the benefits of it.
He also appealed to journalists to inform the public on the products which are a result of government investment in science and technology. He said, “Through research, we have plenty of seed varieties, animal vaccines, ICT technologies, leather technology, and many more.”

He also revealed that more efforts have been done in terms of researching disease that affects famers in the country. “With research fund, we have managed to support research in various sectors of the economy. We have a team of researchers working on cassava diseases, coconut diseases, banana wilt disease, maize lethal necrosis, and many more,” he added, noting that if more efforts will be directed towards agriculture sector, it would be a leading contributing sector of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

The COSTECH Director General, Dr. Hassan Mshinda stresses point agricultural science journalists (not pictured) during the training workshop which was held at COSTECH Conference Room. On his right is the Chairperson of the TAJF, Mr. Gerald Kitabu.

Part of agricultural science journalists during the training workshop which was held at COSTECH Conference Room.

The seminar was facilitated by Dr. Emmarold Mneney from the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) together with a long time Chief Editor, who has worked in various news rooms, and now retired, Mr. Deo Nfugale.