Film industry to change attitudes towards farming
Nigeria does not produce enough food for its population, yet few people want to work in agriculture. NAI guest researcher Idris Badiru investigates how movies and television could change people's perception of farming.
Badiru is working on a research project that investigates how film and television productions could support the government's desire to improve Nigeria's agricultural production. According to him, Nigeria’s huge film industry – Nollywood – may have greater impact than the more conventional method of conveying state information through radio messages. The government in the United Kingdom carried out a similar effort when agriculture needed a boost after the Second World War. Several Latin American countries have also promoted agriculture through television.
“Previously in Nigeria, films have been used to inform people about HIV and other health issues. Why couldn’t they also promote agriculture?”, Badiru notes.
Nigeria needs to develop its agriculture. Africa's most populous country is far from self-sufficient and imports large quantities of food every year. With last year’s shrinking oil revenues, food imports have become an even greater burden on the economy.
Badiru is spending his time at NAI watching movies. So far he has seen about 100 Nollywood films, some online and others from the institute’s library collection, which serves as a baseline study on how Nigerian films portray agriculture.
“Very few deal with farming at all, and when they do it’s almost always in a negative way. In the films, farmer characters are losers. They are the ones who didn’t succeed in the city and have no other option than to grow crops in the countryside”, Badiru observes.
This has become the general view of agriculture in Nigerian society, he points out. Farming is something nobody wants to do voluntarily. Similarly, a large proportion of his students and even colleagues in the Faculty of Agriculture at University of Ibadan did not want to study there initially, but had to because they lacked other options.
"This attitude comes from growing up with television shows with farmers dressed in rags and working really hard for no profit. Then, obviously, nobody wants to be a farmer. However, it also means that television has the power to change this image. Nollywood productions have millions of viewers, even reaching outside of Nigeria”, Badiru states.
He hopes that policymakers at the Ministry of Agriculture will understand this and see potential in cooperating with Nollywood.
"We need success stories about farmers and agriculture. A changed perception may lead to more people choosing to engage in agriculture and increase Nigeria’s food production”, Badiru says.
TEXT: Johan Sävström
The NAI Library suggests
Performative inter-actions in African theatre. 2, Innovation, creativity and social change / Kene Igweonu; Osy A. Okagbue (eds), 2013.
Re-imagining development communication in Africa / Chuka Onwumechili; Ikechukwu S Ndolo (eds), 2013.
Titles on Nollywood.
Titles on agricultural development + Nigeria.
Idris Badiru’s Google Scholar profile, including a list of publications.