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Agricultural journalism course at post-graduate level

Agricultural journalism helps increasing farmer’s consciousness in decision-making and to do the right thing at the right time. In this digital age, electronic agriculture (e-agriculture) has already acclaimed popularity among the farmers.
M Zahidul Haque
Agricultural journalism course at post-graduate level

The relevant stakeholders have long felt for introducing an agricultural journalism course at post-graduate level in agricultural universities including Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU). There is also a rising demand of the present job market in this particular field.

Agricultural journalism is a specialized branch of journalism that communicates information on agricultural and other related scientific issues for enhancing crop production, ensuring food security and safety and proper nutrition of people.

Agricultural journalists perform the communication tasks through receiving, writing, editing and reporting news and views with necessary photographs by using print and electronic media like newspapers, magazines, radio, television plus online platforms. Agricultural journalism, (also called in certain institutions ‘agricultural communication’) and agricultural extension serve the same purposes of disseminating information excepting agricultural extension which works on technology transfer and imparts non-formal education to farm and non-farm people in both rural and urban areas.

At present some public universities and private universities in Bangladesh are offering agricultural journalism courses as a supporting course. The Agricultural Extension & Information System Department of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) is also offering a course in agricultural journalism within its MS in agricultural extension programme. 

In 2013, the UNESCO released a model curriculum for journalism education primarily meant for the developing countries and emerging democracies. Till today the content of journalism education at tertiary level is passing through changes and improvements emphasizing the theory-practice issues within journalism education instruction-learning arena. Agriculture is a broad area of science containing several subjects starting from crop botany/biotechnology to agricultural extension/agricultural economics. Recently the President of International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (ifaj), a journalists’ forum of nearly 76 countries Lena Johansson said, “Agriculture needs specialized, experience journalists and communicators who can describe and explain the whole complex picture”.

During the coronavirus pandemic, people all over the world realized from heart that ensuring food security for the global population is a prime task of the hour; agricultural journalists have a significant role to play in this field by keeping a steady flow of agricultural information.

Agricultural journalism helps increasing farmer’s consciousness in decision-making and to do the right thing at the right time. In this digital age, electronic agriculture (e-agriculture) has already acclaimed popularity among the farmers. Farmers get agricultural and marketing plus other extension information through e-agriculture. The messages/contents of e-agriculture communication are being produced and transmitted by agricultural journalism professionals via smart phones and other mobile communication devices. Agricultural information is vital to raising agricultural productivity; agricultural journalism can contribute effectively to the expansion and practice of e-agriculture.

The Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University has been working on introducing a separate MS degree programme in agricultural journalism. Recently, the Academic Council of the University in its 77th meeting reviewed the report of the concerned committee for the preparation of course curriculum of some new subjects the SAU planned to introduce at post-graduate level as per the demand of the time and stakeholders. The layout of three new courses at MS level namely, food safety, agro metrology and agricultural journalism was tabled in the Academic Council meeting which was positively reviewed by the esteemed members of the council. In case of agricultural journalism course, the academic council expanded the present committee with Prof. Dr. Alok Kumar Paul, Dean, Post-graduate Studies as Convener to improve the course curriculum by incorporating some more inter-related subjects into the MS agricultural journalism course as per the suggestion put forwarded by the Academic Council Chairman and Vice Chancellor of SAU Prof. Dr. Md. Shahidur Rashid Bhuiyan. According to him, an agricultural journalism course at post-graduate level should facilitate students gather fundamental knowledge on certain related subjects of agricultural science, such as, livestock, fisheries, in addition to subjects related to journalism. This will obviously make the graduates equipped with knowledge in relevant agricultural domains for efficiently disseminating agricultural information.

Actually, in a post-COVID world, it has become essential to make higher education more practical and quick action oriented for instant application towards ensuring agricultural and rural development. At this end, an integrated Agricultural Journalism course at MS level is quite appropriate in the present context.

The writer is a professor (on PRL) and former Dean, Faculty of Agriculture at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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