After covering agricultural news for several years, Inoussa Maïga noticed something: it didn’t interest young people. In his home country of Burkina Faso, agriculture was typically seen as “not cool” and as the “job for people who didn’t do well at school.” Hoping to change these stereotypes, he started a specific section on his blog to write about innovations and successful young entrepreneurs in the world of agriculture.
In the span of three years, the blog section grew into Agribusiness TV, a multi-journalist media organization with a successful and innovative strategy.
A mobile-first media outlet, Agribusiness TV was developed for the web but also for mobile, with Android and iOS applications to reach its target audience: Africa’s young people.
Francophone Africa is following a global trend in which younger demographics increasingly use their phones to check the news and communicate with friends. In order to bring news about agriculture to a younger audience, Maïga decided that Agribusiness TV had to be accessible through mobile, on social media like Facebook. Videos can also be shared through Bluetooth when internet connectivity is not good enough.
Before starting, Maïga had to tackle two major challenges: His team of journalists is spread across western Africa in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and several other countries — and were used to working for television. The team gathered for a workshop to get some technical training and discuss their editorial policy and organizational workflows.
“We needed to find a format that could be attractive to the audience,” Maïga says.
Maïga remembered Philippe Couve, a French journalist turned trainer and consultant who he met a few years earlier in Kenya. Couve had been thinking about new ways to tell stories and reach audiences for a long time. After working as a reporter, he started his own company, Samsa, to help legacy media outlets in their digital transition and provide support to innovating media initiatives.
In February, the Agribusiness TV team met with Couve for a week of training. It was important for them to create a clear editorial strategy to produce consistent content while working across several countries, Maïga says.
“We needed everyone to know what to do [for the project] to work,” says Maïga.
Even though Agribusiness TV is made for mobile consumption, its journalists don’t use their mobile phones to report. They still use DSLRs or small cameras. Reporting with smartphones will be the next step, says Couve.
Several months after the workshop, Agribusiness TV is a growing media organization. It’s actively working to change the image of agriculture in Africa, a continent where the population is growing and where many young people are turning their back to this sector.
Numbers are showing Agribusiness TV is on the right track. Its videos have more than 1 million views, and boasts more than 50,000 likes on its Facebook page. Its web and mobile TV content, originally in French, is now translated into English to reach an even wider audience.
Most importantly, every day between 10 and 15 people contact Agribusiness TV seeking information about the entrepreneurs it profiles to learn more about their experiences and techniques.
“It’s not just artificial engagement,” notes Couve, who still follows Agribusiness TV. Other entrepreneurs are also contacting Agribusiness TV’s journalists to be featured in their videos. The media outlet is building a community of young people with a shared interest in agriculture.
While Agribusiness TV is currently available on the internet and through its mobile app, it is working to develop more traditional programming. They plan on making a monthly 26-minute television program with their videos to reach a wider audience (especially for those in rural Africa who have bad internet connectivity) — and for financial reasons.
“Advertisers in Francophone Africa are not interested yet in investing in a mobile platform,” says Maïga.
Main image courtesy of Mahamadi Ouédraoga; secondary image courtesy of Inoussa Maïga.