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December 09, 2008

Kenyan, Ugandan win CGIAR agricultural journalism awards

Patricia Oyella of WBS TV in Uganda and Wandera Ojanji of the East African Standard in Kenya have won the CGIAR-FARA 2008 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism in Africa.

Ms. Oyella won the prize for outstanding broadcast story while Mr. Ojanji received the
outstanding print media prize. Each award, carrying a cash value of US$5,000, recognizes
journalists’ efforts in effectively communicating agricultural science issues to the general public.
This year’s prize was jointly offered by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

“We received an impressive array of entries from about 20 countries in Africa. Ms. Oyella and
Mr. Ojanji impressed the judges most for thoroughly exploring the issues without losing their
audience in the complexity of science. We recognize and applaud their efforts in showing how
agriculture research contributes to development in Africa,” said Catherine Mgendi of the CGIAR.
“Extensive and well-researched coverage of these important issues contributes to the mission of
the CGIAR and FARA, and we are grateful for their contribution.”

Patricia Oyella, editor and reporter at WBS TV in Uganda, received the award for her broadcast
feature, “Saving the Cooking Banana,” shown on WBS TV and on Business Africa, a program
broadcast on a network of more than 45 African and five European partner channels. Combining
powerful, captivating imagery with precise narratives, the feature demonstrated the importance
of this food crop in Africa, the problems faced by banana farmers, and the solutions offered by

The panel of judges—comprising senior journalists and editors across Africa—applauded her
entry as “a brilliant story well told with strong human interest.” The judges commended Ms.
Oyella for a story well-researched that also employed unforgettable images and experts who
explained the issues clearly.

Wandera Ojanji, science and environmental writer at the East African Standard newspaper
in Kenya, received the outstanding print award for his article, “Endangered Species,” published
on September 2, 2007. In his article, Ojanji effectively highlighted the plight of diminishing
indigenous livestock breeds in Kenya and neighboring countries, and advocated strongly for the
conservation of their genetic diversity through research, local breeding programs, and policy
interventions. “‘Endangered Species’ is a good agriculture research story and the journalist has done proper justice to a difficult theme,” said the judges.

The CGIAR-FARA 2008 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism in Africa
attracted 49 print and broadcast entries on issues affecting Africa’s key crops (banana, cassava,
maize, rice) and livestock, namely biofuels, climate change, the role of biotechnology, food
safety, access to fertilizers, pest management and efforts to control noxious weeds such as

“In this day of information overload, journalists have to be concise, accurate and relevant. They
additionally have to present agricultural information attractively and innovatively. Their choice of words and images sometimes has more impact than loads of scientific evidence,” said Francois
Stepman, Communications Specialist for the Accra-based Forum for Agricultural Research in
Africa. “We truly laud the efforts of journalists to inform and educate the public about the
importance of issues affecting agriculture in Africa, and solutions offered by research.”


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