Born and bred in Kariega, a small town just outside of Gqebera, the bioeconomy communications officer at Biosafety South Africa, Zimasa Jam Jam, manages a portal that focuses on the sectors of health, agriculture, industry and environment, and indigenous knowledge.
“I’ve always been inquisitive, and creative and have a love for adventure. It was a no-brainer since I was nine to study and become involved in the media and communications,” she says.
Jam Jam studied for a degree in communication and culture at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and in 2013 moved to Cape Town. Jam Jam is currently studying toward her master’s at Stellenbosch University.
“I studied for my BA in media, communication and culture at Nelson Mandela University in 2010 and finished my degree in 2012.,” she explained.
A typical day
On most days she writes content that involves various stakeholders as well as related to sustainable bio-innovation, especially about GMOs and the safety of those products in South Africa and the rest of the world.
“In my current role as a bioeconomy communications officer at Biosafety South Africa, I manage a portal that focuses on the sectors of health, agriculture, industry and environment, and indigenous knowledge,” she explains
She believes that science communication has an important role to play in deciphering information so that all can know the fantastic work being done in Mzansi, and highlighting the many innovations that are taking place.
“I love every bit of my work as no day is the same. It is fulfilling knowing that I facilitate collaborations amongst bioeconomy stakeholders, and ensure that they have the latest content on news and events, funding opportunities, and for many others. I market their small businesses on the portal and on our social media platforms. South Africa has so much potential with all the amazing scientists,” says Jam Jam.
Life in the day of a communication professional
Most of her days are spent writing content, finding new stakeholders to register on the portal, and the latest news and events so those relevant can know and attend. “I also collaborate with colleagues from other organisations in science communication as we share content and information.
“I’m usually one of the early comers, I enjoy having a cup of black coffee or green tea before I start reading my emails. I then attend to emails and respond to anything urgent. After that, I turn my attention to my plan where I coordinate my social media posts and would then schedule those for the day on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I give portal training to stakeholders so that they know how to use and navigate the platform,” she says
Tips if you want to be an agricultural communications professional
South Africa is a large agricultural country beyond the realms of the Free State or Limpopo. Even the smaller regions can be showcased based on the abundance of potential and events that need to be brought to light.
“Always research and read about the latest happenings in the sector. Being a good communications professional stems from knowing a lot and the only way to fill yourself with vast information is to read, read, read. They should also follow agri-related pages on social media as these often have very important information,” she advises.
Top five reasons why Jam Jam became a bioeconomy communications officer:
- She wanted to bridge into a totally different sector of science.
- “Use my communications skills in building a voice in the way the economy.”
- To push herself, even in such environments that are male-dominated.
- As a young black female from the Eastern Cape, there’s so much to do with a media degree.
- The Bioeconomy SA portal is part of the South African Bioeconomy Strategy, and she wants her name mentioned in projects that help build the economy
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