Bright Leaf Awards Heightens Awareness Of Agriculture Issues
July 6, 2014

MANILA, Philippines - In an agricultural country like the Philippines, the issues hounding the industry are as countless as they are varied.

There’s smuggling, lack of post-harvest facilities, corruption, budget woes and inefficiencies.

The importance of agriculture issues is growing because of climate change and the recent disasters that hit the country.

However, agriculture stories do not often make headlines in newspapers despite their significance to farmers’ lives, consumers and to the economy in general.

The Bright Leaf  Agriculture Journalism Awards, a yearly journalism competition organized by PMFTC Inc., seeks to change all that and it has been doing so for seven years already since 2007. It is now on its eight year.

“The goal is to raise public awareness on what’s happening in the agriculture industry through the stories that the journalists portray through photos and videos, the ones that they capture and in their articles,” Didet Danguilan, Bright Leaf project head told The STAR in a recent interview.

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Danguilan stressed that the focus is on the stories.

“The focus is on the article that the journalist writes or the photos and videos captured through the lens. The journalist behind the excellent piece is the added value,” she noted.

In raising awareness on agriculture issues, the Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards competition does not discriminate.

“Agriculture issues encompass all the sectors of agriculture. There are so many issues we discover through the entries. There are so many things happening in the provinces. For example, there’s cacao schooling, sustainable farming and many other developmental stories,” she said.

Indeed, awareness has been growing.

“We started with only 69 entries in 2007. Now it’s almost 1,500. Judges have difficulty judging,” Danguilan noted.

PMFTC, a cigarette manufacturer, chose to name the competition Bright Leaf because it is the name given to Virginia tobacco, which turns into a vivid yellow when it is cured with intense heat.

“The discovery of the Bright Leaf tobacco brought to life the struggling economy of North Carolina in the United States. It is characterized by a distinct flavor and aroma that makes it the variant of choice for manufacturing tobacco products,” PMFTC said in its profile on the competition.

The Bright Leaf Awards are given to the most outstanding and relevant agriculture stories in print, radio, and television.

Furthermore, PMFTC said, the competition also honors the most compelling photos that capture the essence of tobacco farming and the agriculture industry.  It acknowledges the efforts of the Filipino journalist to bring to the forefront the current issues, new best practices, safety issues, crop sustainability and many other subjects relevant to one of our country’s most important industries.

“Their stories need to be seen, heard and appreciated. The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards is the best way to achieve that,” Danguilan said.

Moving forward, Danguilan hopes that the competition can serve as a platform to discuss relevant issues in agriculture.

“We hope that policy makers will take cognizance of the different issues in agriculture that are being highlighted in the entries,” she said.

Journalists can compete for the following categories: Agriculture Story of the Year, Tobacco Story of the Year, Agriculture Photo of the Year, Tobacco Photo of the Year, Best Agriculture TV Program/Segment, Best Agriculture Radio Program/Segment, Best Agriculture News Story National, Best Agriculture News Story Regional, Best Agriculture Feature Story National, Best Agriculture Feature Story Regional and The Oriental Leaf Award.

For this year’s 8th Bright Leaf competition, entries published, aired and broadcasted locally from Sept. 1, 2013 until Aug. 31, 2014 will be accepted. The Bright Leaf secretariat now accepts entries and deadline is on Sept. 10, 2014.

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