Audio postcard: Monty Jones, the king of FARA

Monty Jones.

His name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue whether it’s an international aid group thanking him for being their first point of contact or as one of the founding members of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

In this photo, Jones is taking the podium for the last time as the Executive Director of FARA, which organized the entire Africa Agriculture Science Week.

He wears a traditional Ghanaian Kente that was draped over him as he was crowned the “king of FARA.”

He addressed the crowd as friends, not subjects. More than 1,000 researchers, farmers, development partners, policy makers and NGOs were at the conference and he thanked them all for working with him over the years

Jones also acknowledged the new executive director of FARA.

“Yemi Akinbamijo will take this institution to higher heights,” Jones said. “He will do greater things than I have done.”

And Jones has done many great things.

One of his most notable achievements he listed in his speech was researching New Rice For Africa (NERICA). He won the 2005 world food prize for developing these strains, which had shorter harvest cycles and combined the high yield of Asian grains with the durability of African breeds.

Farm Radio International saw the potential of NERICA and partnered with Volta Star Radio in Ghana to run a participatory radio campaign on this new technology. Without additional extension, interest grew and NERICA rice made its way into households. Now, we have seen the grains’ resilience in the face of climate change and ability to diversify farmers’ crops.

As Jones leaves his post, he will assume a new role as special advisor and ambassador for his home country of Sierra Leone.

“FARA, you’re going to progress and you’re going to progress well,” he said.

“I will be there with this position answering to your call whenever you want to call me.”

About the author
Juanita Bawagan is a Farm Radio intern based in Accra, Ghana. She is a recent graduate of the Journalism program at Carleton University and is taking part in the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies (CMTS) internship program. Farm Radio is hosting five interns from this program in 2013.

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