By: Carolyn Thompson
ACCRA, Ghana – Nana Boakye-Yiadom trudged through marshy and flooded fields after more than an hour riding on the back of a motorbike over muddy, red, and rocky paths in Ghana’s Central Gonja District.
“Finally we’re getting close to Abdul Raman’s rice farm, but we’ve been walking in this marshy area for about 15 minutes,” the journalist narrated in a radio documentary that aired last month on Citi 97.3 FM. “This is the kind of toil farmers across the country go through to put food on your table, only for aggregators to come all the way here with meager sums of money to buy the produce at the expense of farmers.”
Boakye-Yiadom won the inaugural African Story Challenge agriculture reporting award on Friday.
His series of stories, Phone Farming, told the story of how a simple SMS technology is helping struggling farmers survive, and even thrive.
Boakye-Yiadom worked with the support of Journalists for Human Rights trainers at Citi FM.
The story was daunting, Boakye-Yiadom said. He had never covered the agriculture sector before, and the reporting would require travel across the country in just six weeks.
“What I would say is that it opened my eyes really as a journalist that it is not just about sitting in the office making calls. The real work is out there. The real stories are out there,” he said on Monday.
“We are doing our listeners, our readers, our viewers a lot of disservice by staying put.”
“Boakye-Yiadom’s story was very well told,” Omar Ben Yedder, chair of the judging panel and group publisher of IC publications, said in a news release. “You can tell he has done the leg work: there’s lots of first hand evidence, he has spoken to people on the ground and went around the country to find out the impact of technologies on farmers.”
The African Story Challenge is held by the African Media Initiative and the International Center for Journalists.