From 5 to 6 February 2024, around 30 journalists and media professionals from 10 African countries have been sensitized on the importance of Agricultural Risk Management (ARM) by the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM). The two-day online learning session was specifically designed for journalists, filmmakers, and media professionals who took part in the global campaign PARM Stories Challenge organised by PARM in 2023. Participants from Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Togo have learnt more about the concepts of agricultural risk, risk assessment methodology across value chains and ARM tools and strategies.
An introduction to agricultural risk management (ARM)
The first day of the workshop was devoted to the fundamental concepts surrounding agricultural risk, its management and assessment, recognizing the essential role played by journalists in disseminating information to raise awareness of small-scale farmers on ARM and sensitize different stakeholders for their greater involvement for a better risk management at country, regional and global levels. Pascal Ilboudo, PARM’s Country Liaison Officer in Burkina Faso, opened the discussions by laying the foundations on the concepts of agricultural risks in order to facilitate the understanding of the audience. Subsequently, Francesca Nugnes, PARM’s Capacity Development Expert, explored the essential elements for assessing agricultural risk at farm level, highlighting the importance of risk prioritization in developing effective mitigation strategies. Stimulating discussions followed, with participants highlighting the importance of centralizing and disseminating data for the benefit of small-scale farmers, particularly those hampered by illiteracy. To meet this challenge, producer organizations and cooperatives emerged as a proposed solution, aimed at empowering small-scale farmers.
Armed with this fundamental knowledge, participants engaged in interactive group sessions to identify the main value chains in their respective countries and the associated risks. These exchanges not only elucidated the uniqueness of the agricultural landscape of each country represented, but also highlighted commonalities in production and risks across many African countries. In particular, maize emerged as a predominant value chain in countries such as Benin, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda, while concerns about climate change-induced risks such as floods and droughts were raised by almost all participants. In addition, particular attention was given to gender mainstreaming in agricultural risk management with PARM’s Gender Expert, Johana Simao, who highlighted the need for gender inclusion and proposed concrete steps forward.
Enhancing agricultural risk management for a better control and mitigation
On the last day, PARM’s Senior Technical Advisor, Tristan Le Cotty provided the attendees with tools to mitigate, avoid, transfer, or adapt to agricultural risks specifying which ones to use depending on the risk and context. To complete and push forward their knowledge in ARM, participants were encouraged to follow the e-learning courses on Agricultural Risk Management developed by PARM and the FAO e-learning platform. Furthermore, an interactive exercise encouraged participants to share insights on the ARM tools they found most implementable and those they perceived as more challenging for their respective countries. From this dynamic exchange, it emerged that tools such as crop diversification, capacity-building initiatives, harnessing technology (e.g., community radio, WhatsApp groups, mobile apps) and microfinance were considered the most accessible and practical. In contrast, rural insurance, early warning systems and soil analysis were identified by participants as tools with limited accessibility to farmers.
The workshop concluded with the participants reiterating their commitment to advancing agricultural resilience in their respective countries. The event aimed to mainstream ARM among journalists and communication experts, facilitating broader understanding and awareness that will hopefully give life to new stories about Farming Champions.