The media in Bangladesh is vibrant, which is improving day by day defying many obstacles. Two decades ago agricultural journalism in Bangladesh was solely dependent on rural correspondents of the newspapers, who had little opportunities to do their jobs. However, Agricultural Journalism has developed remarkably during the last 20 years, with almost all the media outlets employing dedicated reporters in this field.
However, we believe that agriculture is yet to get prominence it deserves in the media and academic discourse as it is the mainstay of Bangladesh’s economy. We have still much to do. An organised effort for development of agricultural journalism was a necessity. We felt the urge to form an organisation of agricultural journalists incorporating the journalists working in Dhaka and in the remote districts. Earlier in 2006, an Agricultural Reporters Forum-Bangladesh (ARF-B) was formed comprising 20 reporters in Dhaka. But the organisation remained almost ineffective and ultimately it was dissolved in the course of time. Later in 2013, another organisation of Dhaka based agricultural journalists was formed. But the journalists, who are working in the rural areas, are not its members.
So, we, some leading agricultural journalists and press freedom activists, had started to discuss since November last year about forming a national organisation binding together all the agricultural journalists across Bangladesh. At last we decided to form a federal body of agricultural journalists, as the leaders of the Dhaka based Agricultural Journalists Forum also agreed to join us.
Against this backdrop, the Bangladesh Agricultural Journalists and Activists Federation (BAJAF) was founded on 17th of January, 2016. Agricultural journalists working in both print and electronic media have become its members. The Dhaka based organisation, which was formed earlier, has been acknowledged as its sister concern. Moreover, three new units of BAJAF have already been formed in Chittagong, Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions. Presidents and General Secretaries of all the units have been made ex-officio members of the Executive Committee of the BAJAF. Pulack Ghatack, a senior reporter of The Daily Observer and noted press freedom activist in Bangladesh, has been made its president. Iftekhar Mahmud, a reputed journalist of the country’s largest vernacular newspaper The Daily Prothom Alo has become its Secretary General. President of the Dhaka based Agricultural Journalists Forum, Altab Hossain has been made Vice-President of BAJAF and while General Secretary of the Dhaka based organisation, Shahanuare Shaid Shahin has been elected its Organising Secretary.
The BAJAF and its units have held a series of meetings in the capital Dhaka and in the districts. We are scheduled to organize two roundtable discussions –one on April 23 in Bogra District and another on May 12 in Dhaka on the Problems, Prospects and Priorities of Agriculture and Role Media. The organisation will continue with its activities and expand in the future.
The BAJAF is willing to work as a national guild of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). It aims to inform domestic and international public about agricultural and food production and rural life in Bangladesh, and also to promote scientific and professional innovation within its area of activities.
BAJAF would continue to serve as a forum for an open exchange of ideas among colleagues in an environment that fosters professional excellence. It will also work for press freedom and people’s right to know. Editors and journalists, broadcasters, photographers and PR/marketing specialists working in agriculture, commercial horticulture and other rural industries are eligible to become its members. Members work freelance and full time on specialist trade publications, consumer magazines and regional newspapers, and for agencies, commercial businesses and other organisations in the rural sector are also welcome. All information about BAJAF is available at its website www.bajaf.org.