Begin Planning for Congress 2014








With just under 300 days to plan, it’s time to begin plannig for IFAJ’s 2014 Congress. The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists will host the prestigious IFAJ World Congress for the sixth time.

Themed, Innovations from a Small Island, the event will showcase British food and farming to the global media.

Congress attendees will visit farms, markets, distilleries, maltings, forests, sawmills, renewable energy producers and much more. Plans are underway for pre- and post-Congress tours, to be held in London and the Midlands/Wales respectively.

For more on Congress 2014 visit

London Bridge Sheep Drive

Adrian Bell
Great Britain

London has a number of historic trade associations known as 'Livery Companies'. Dating from medieval times, these Companies were originally guilds responsible for the regulation and control of their various trades and while some trades have today gone by the wayside (Longbow Makers, Fletchers and Tallow Chandlers to name but a few – their Companies now exist purely as charitable organizations) many of the 109 Companies still have an important role to play, both in their trades and also in educating new entrants to their industries.

To become a Liveryman of one of these Companies, one must first become a Freeman of the City of London. The title was first recorded in 1237 and marked the holder out as someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, i.e. they were 'free'. This gave the holder a number of privileges that, from the Middle Ages, became the right to trade; as a member of a Guild or Livery Company, you were allowed to trade within the City's Square Mile. Nowadays, of course, the title is ceremonial, but one must still go through the Freedom Ceremony, conducted in the Chamberlain's Court of London's Guildhall. The applicant must read the 'Declaration of a Freeman' and sign in the Declaration Book, having taken an oath of allegiance to HM Queen Elizabeth and agreed to 'keep the Queen's peace'.


What’s trending in agricultural journalism – globally

Kim Waalderbos
IFAJ Boot Camp Participant

Social media topped the list of trends being adopted by agricultural journalists around the world. The trends were shared by delegates as part of the the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leader and Master Class programs.

Irish journalist Darren Carty said colleagues in his country are “being asked, but not forced to change and adopt more social media”. While Carla Wiese-Smith noted “our job has changed, but we haven’t been asked to change.” She says most of her Australian colleagues, particularly younger journalists, are becoming self-trained and picking up social media tools.


New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators Announces Award Winners

Sue Miller
New Zealand

The New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators recently presented eleven awards for journalism and one for photography. The awards encouragement and recognize excellence in agricultural journalism.

Radio New Zealand journalist from the Country Life program, Susan Murray, received this year’s top award for agricultural journalists. She won the supreme award, the TBfree New Zealand Rongo Award recognizing excellence in agricultural journalism, for two programs, one on a Maori Trust Farm that was a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Maori Business Farm of the Year, and the other on the reaction to the Environment Court ruling to give the Manawatu Whanganui Regional Council the right to control the impact farming can have on the region’s waterways.

The runner-up was a series of articles prepared by the NZ Farmer team from Fairfax Media, on the effect of the drought earlier this year.


The opaque transparency

Iurii Mykhailov

Comment on: “Journalists can help farmers deliver on transparency”, Column by Owen Roberts in the IFAJ-Newsletter August 2013

Dr. Roberts’s definition of the transparency as “being forthright, ethical and proactive about actions, issues and activities” is incorrect. Actually “transparency” means honesty, openness and intelligibility. And ethics has nothing to do at all with the transparency (to say nothing about the “proactive actions and activities”).
Is it a task for the journalist to make PR? Certainly it is not. PR promote specific products/services and, by the definition, do not provide the complete truth. A journalism must promote science and technology regardless of who developed them provided these technologies are beneficial (economically, environmentally etc.) and to uncover the information PR try to hide.

But to do this a journalist must at least understand all this. The fact that many journalists (and now farmers as bloggers, according to Dr. Roberts) are scientifically and technologically ignorant and write rubbish does not help.
In contrast to Dr. Roberts’s thesis I think that social media in fact further expand the pool of the information hogwash. Just remember the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser who after his lost case to “Monsanto” began to position himself as the GMO expert.


Danes and Gambians collaborate to meet listener needs

Per Henrik Hansen

The Danish guild of IFAJ and Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC) in the western African country The Gambia will collaborate on a project in March 2014, with the objective of creating a strategy to develop agri-journalism there.

At first, two members of the Danish guild and two members of NAC will make a four day long research trip into the provinces of The Gambia, to examine the needs for journalism among farmers and learn the extent community radio stations are doing programs for farmers.


IFAJ News December 2013

IFAJ Newsletter Sponsor BEKINA®

IFAJ platform for developing journalism

Riitta Mustonen
IFAJ Secretary General

Sparkling examples of what our members do can be seen on the IFAJ website. So much talent, new ideas, ways of saying, looking and interpreting things. So much to learn.

For example, look at those marvelous photos of the IFAJ photo contest: Peter Risteviski’s “I won’t abandon you”, winner of this year’s competition, or Cliff Donaldson’s “Feeding time,” winner of last year. Read Caitriona Murphy’s story “Fear that stalks our farms.” Or watch Sean Murphy’s video “Freedom of choice.” You’ll be impressed.

Where else besides IFAJ could you get international feedback for your works in agricultural journalism? IFAJ gives you an international platform and offers possibilities for all its members to participate in its contests.


A new crew for the management of IFAJ

After a process of evaluating and conducting interviews the hiring committee of IFAJ decided to finally hire two persons. The main goal of the new IFAJ staffing positions is to fulfil the strategy towards 2020 of becoming a more global organization that was ratified by the Delegate Assembly at the congress in Sweden in 2012.

The two candidates for the new positions are: José van Gelder for the position of Global Manager and Anne Kluivers for the position of Global Assistant. José and Anne are both are from the Netherlands and both work at Agriterra. “Being both from Agriterra brings with it a high level of efficiency for IFAJ” wrote Markus Rediger in a letter to the Executives in the end of November 2013. 
Starting in December 2013, José and Anne will connect with Connie Siemes the former Excutive Secretary and help prepare for the meetings in Berlin in January 2014 at the Green Week. In Berlin the next steps in the work of IFAJ will be discussed. I feel confident the hiring committee has done a solid job in making its selections, following interviews with candidates on the shortlist and checking out their references. 
This new team, along with the hard work by the executive and the presidium, will move our federation further towards its mutual goal of being a strong, worldwide platform for agricultural journalists and communicators on every continent.


Exposure-4-Development- The 2013 Uganda Tour is History

José van Gelder
The Netherlands

Although we left Africa and returned to our – mostly much colder – countries, that does not mean Uganda is out of our system.

What a week. What a good group. What an amazing country. Having all participants eager to learn, constantly taking notes and pictures, I’m very confident that again this tour will lead to a lot of exposure.

Being not only involved as an IFAJ exec but also as an Agriterra staff member, that’s what we wanted to achieve: showing the IFAJ journalists different farm issues in the developing world. Enabling them to take a look beyond the images of hunger and poverty in Africa to explore agriculture in a country full of initiatives and business opportunities. Particularly organized by farmers themselves. Again I feel we succeeded.

My feeling about the E-4-D week in three words

Claire Muller


Efficiency- What I saw and experienced during this 6 days tour would have taken me ages to organize by myself. Organizers knew exactly the needs and the expectations of agricultural journalists. Who and what they chose to show us was totally relevant, such as cooperatives, as farms, as people, as groups, but also as themes: Land rights, climate change, microfinance, innovation, milk market, etc.: the diversity of topics chosen really helped me to perceive in a few days more than a glimpse of Uganda’s agriculture.


Opportunities and challenges in Uganda

Liza Karlsson


During the first week of November, a group of 14 agricultural journalists from all over the world had the opportunity to explore the agricultural arena of Uganda. During the week, organized by Agriterra and IFAJ in cooperation, we visited farmers, agricultural business entrepreneurs and organizations together with José van Gelder and Yvonne van Maanen from Agriterra and guided by Agriterra agribusiness advisor Taco Hoekstra.

We have had an excellent opportunity to learn more about the difficulties and possibilities about developing farming in Uganda. I think that we will be seeing and reading a lot of reports from the participants during the months to come!

During the week we visited both dairy farms as well as coffee and tea plantations and we learned how the farmers’ organizations teach illiterate farmers how to run a profitable business. We discussed climate change and gender issues in agriculture with farmers and representatives of ITTA and CIDI. We also overheard and (some of us) took part in a debate about the challenges in the Ugandan financial sector organized by Agriterra in cooperation with the Dutch Embassy. It was a widely varied and interesting week that gave an extraordinary insight in and education about the food industry and life in Uganda!


Burundi- Topping the Global Food Hunger Index

Jean (John) de Dieu Ininahazwe

Burundi is a country with chronic malnutrition rates highest in Africa and around the world. Indeed, 58% of children under-5 years are face growth issues. They are malnourished. The prevalence hides disparities ranging from 71.2% in vulnerable areas (Ngozi, Kirundo, Muyinga Muramvya Karusi, Ruyigi and Makamba) and 28% in Bujumbura Mayorship. Burundi also faces population growth challenges, the cause of many land conflicts.

In my country, this hunger and malnutrition issues are due to lack of solid policies for food security. We have a fertile soil but we are a 100% depending on rain. For instance, last year we had a long sunny period until October; farmers could not harvest enough as expected for the second season 2012B (what does 2012B mean?: means from February to July.

Being an agricultural journalist in this country is a tough task. We keep advocating for every single activity to farmers and somehow none are listening. Some of my colleagues involved in political media keep telling me that I am doing nothing like a rain in the desert of Sahara. They say you should go to Court as you studied law to earn more. As far as I am concerned, I did not end up in Agricultural journalism by accident, it is all about passion. And above all, I am rice farmer; I follow in my mothers foot steps. It is my duty to save this sector. Now, I am glad the Government increased the budget allocated to agriculture from 3% to 11%. More than 90% of the population is rural and agriculture contributes to 34% to GDP. Agriculture is something that should make busy all journalists around here. But, many overlook this area and focus on political incident, corruption topics, assassination… My task as an agricultural journalist is reporting stories relevant to farmers and alert on several areas. This hunger issue started in 2000 when we experienced a drought in the northern part of the country, also known as the granary of Burundi. That province used to feed the country especially providing beans, bananas and sorghum.


Big communications gap between consumer scientists and food technologists

Jim Evans
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center

It helps account for a failure rate of about 70-80 percent in the introduction of new food products, according to researchers M. Ragona, M. Raley, S.J. Sijtsema and L.J. Frewer. With funding from the European Commission, they conducted a Delphi survey aimed at identifying potential barriers and success factors at various stages of the food technology development process. Among the barriers that participants identified:


Swiss Guild Hosts Dairy Press Tour- Fresh Milk, Luscious Chocolate and New Insights

Steve Werblow

With the European Union’s plans to eliminate milk quotas in 2015, the dairy industry is likely to become more global – and in turn, present new challenges for producers.  

The experience of dairy farmers in Switzerland, where quotas were abolished in 2009, may provide EU producers with a preview of the effects of leaving quotas behind.  To share those experiences with farmers from across the globe, the Swiss guild, Schweizer Agrojurnalisten, and LID Agro Information Center organized a conference and dairy tour October 27-29.

More than 50 journalists representing two dozen countries met in Charmey, a beautiful alpine town in the Fribourg Region of Switzerland, for the three-day program.