Our Arrival and Some First Thoughts

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The field reporting class (SciAgJ/Journ Global Food Insecurity) checking out the press room Tuesday at the World Food Prize, Des Moines, Iowa. Students left to right, back row, Rachel Zamzow, Lauren Dunn, Jessica Schlager, front row, Teresa Avila, Meghan Eldridge, and Kate Hrdina.

DES MOINES, Iowa — In one of our first events, three students from the field reporting class had the opportunity to meet with eight journalists from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda who are also here in Des Moines covering the World Food Prize. Here are some initial thoughts from the students:

“In my conversation with Akinwunmi Kole Dawodu, a journalist from Nigeria, I was struck by the similarities between American farmers and smallholder farmers in Africa. Dawodu said, ‘seeing is believing,’ is the motto of the smallholder farmers in his country. Much like American farmers, when it comes to extension, Nigerian farmers are hesitant to try new agricultural technology until they are actually shown its benefits. Although the scale of work is different between American and Nigerian farmers, their mindset toward extension is more similar than I originally thought.” – Rachel Zamzow

“When I ask myself why I’m involved in journalism, I struggle to come up with a consistent answer. However, after meeting broadcast journalist Adelaide Arthur from Ghana, I was inspired by her passion for this field. We were discussing her goal to receive a master’s in Agricultural Journalism at the University of Missouri. I was curious, does she envision herself remaining in the United States or heading home after receiving a graduate degree? With conviction she remarked that she would head home to Ghana because that is where her work will be valued. Equipped with a strong understanding in agriculture she will be able to report accurate stories for an audience that needs her skills.” -Lauren Dunn

“The smell in the air is unfamiliar, but it’s definitely food. Something spicy, savory, and rich that makes me think of Americanized Indian food. Stepping into the Des Moines Marriott Downtown Hotel, it’s a fitting introduction to the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue. So is the two-story banner hanging over the main area; a colorful affair with patterns that represent water, land and plant life. These elements are all part of the question: how do we feed a growing population? It’s a question that several African reporters at this gathering are considering, including Ugandan reporter Henry Lutaaya. For one, he noted how climate change has been altering the weather patterns and insects at a very fast pace. Lutaaya has seen notable changes within the last five years. “Everyone is talking about it,” he says. He also mentioned that many Western organizations are coming in and denouncing GMOs, calling them unsafe. This can be especially effective when the organizations are Catholic and have a lot of weight in a community. Lutaaya thinks they’re just keeping the hunger problem intact. It’s likely we’ll find more angles on these topics as we delve deeper into what the Borlaug Dialogue has to offer.” — Teresa Avila

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