Under the European Union (EU) – East African Community (EAC) funded Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), communication officers in 12 targeted counties and MARKUP partner institutions have this past week been capacity-built on trending issues in the Agri-foods sector and engaged in promoting food safety messages through digital media.

Bringing the officers on board is a sustainable approach in ensuring that partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries are continuously informed of its impacts as well as specific roles played by different players.

Through extension services, promotion of good agricultural practices and awareness creation on compliance requirements, MARKUP seeks to bridge the Market access gap in selected horticulture sub – sectors (Snow peas, peas, mangoes, passion fruits, chilies, herbs, spices and nuts)

According to Yussuf Ibrahim – Communication Expert, Communicators/Journalists needs to tell the food safety story so that they are part and parcel of building a healthy population, complementing extension, reducing poverty, increasing agricultural productivity and promoting local & international trade

He however cautioned against alarming reporting that is not factual and far from upholding journalistic principles.

“We are all unknowingly exposed to food contamination through ingestion, skin contact and inhalation hence the rising disease cases which stands at 200 million annual global cases and over 400,000 annual global deaths. Food safety is therefore everyone’s business especially to communicators who the globe depends on for dissemination”, said Dr. Charity Mutegi, Food Safety expert during the two – day workshop at Nakuru Agricultural training Center.

With the increased availability and use of different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and others, the desire to network is consequently becoming stronger herein an opportunity for communicators to utilize this space in creating awareness and drive behavior change on food safety.

Siaya is one the 12 counties benefitting from the programme in a bid to increase the value of both extra and intraregional agricultural exports.