British Guild Continues Offering Member Development Opportunities

British Guild of Agricultural Journalists

The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists will again offer the John Deere Training Award, a highly successful training course for professionals to agricultural journalism. The three day event provides three days for learning and three days’ work experience.

In its 21st year, the course is designed to support one of the principal aims of the Guild - promoting schemes for the provision of suitable entrants into agricultural and horticultural journalism.

"The John Deere Training Award is aimed at graduating students keen to work in the agricultural and horticultural media, and at journalists or public relations staff who have less than 12 months’ practical work experience," explains course organizer Steve Mitchell of ASM PR. "Many of today’s journalists and PR executives working in the land-based industries received an early boost to their careers from winning a place on previous courses."

The training course has contributed to many successful communicator careers, including: Rebecca Veale, who spent her work experience placement at the NFU, is now editor of the new Countryside Online website; Jez Fredenburgh is freelancing for Farmers Weekly and co-hosts weekly Twitter debates on food and farming at #agrichatuk; and Emily White joined Guild member Rachel Queenborough’s RQB PR consultancy straight after the course.

This Guild opportunity has availability for 10 participants. The first two full days participants spend at John Deere’s headquarters in Langar, Nottingham. This involves nvolve lectures by experienced training consultant David Mascord and practical exercises that cover the main media sectors. The final three days see each of the selected course members given practical work experience at one of a range of specialist magazines, newspapers or PR consultancies across the UK.

At the end of the course, each person has to write a news story for judging by an expert panel. The winner receives a £250 cheque and the handsome John Deere trophy at an informal presentation later in the year. Last year’s winner was Louise Hartley.

For more information about the British Guild and their efforts to provide opportunities such as this member development offering contact Steve Mitchell (

Call for journalistic project

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) launched an open call for proposals focusing on the eight European countries with the highest development spending. The eighth country, France, is not an IFAJ member country. The EJC will provide a selection of innovative reporting projects with the necessary funds to enable journalists, editors and development stakeholders to perform thorough research and to develop entirely new and experimental reporting and presentation methods.

Agriterra—as a development stakeholder—would like to work on this trajectory with a few journalists from several of these countries. Our idea is simple and complicated at the same time: we want to make a story beyond boundaries and beyond media restrictions on the basic fact that organized farmers bring equity and economic development. Click here for more details.

On the minds of agricultural journalists and communicators

Jim Evans
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center

Agricultural journalists and communicators around the world addressed lots of professional topics at their meetings and events last year. The Agricultural Communications Documentation Center staff went scouting, internationally, at year's end. It identified 86 professional improvement sessions carried out during 2010 by 21 agricultural journalist and communicator organizations in 11 countries. These sessions featured topics in alphabetized categories that ranged from audience relations to writing and editing, with a dozen categories in between. You can read this professional development feature on the website of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).

AAEA Supports Members attending 2013 IFAJ Congress

Steve Werblow
AAEA International Committee chair

The American Agricultural Editors (AAEA) will support five members to attend the 2013 IFAJ Congress in Argentina.

Stipends of $1,500 each, funded by the AAEA Professional Improvement Foundation (PIF), were awarded by the AAEA International Committee to help defray the cost of attendance for five AAEA members traveling to the Congress.

The following received support:
Kathy Huting, Farm Industry News
Charles Johnson, Freelancer
Jennifer Latzke, High Plains Journal
Mark Moore, Freelancer
Brent Olson, Freelancer

The AAEA PIF funded a sixth $1,500 stipend to defray costs for AAEA’s official representative to IFAJ, who will lead the American delegation at the organization’s general business meeting and represent the United States at the Executive meeting.  Karen Simon of Iowa State University will fill that role at the World Congress.

IFAJ News March 2013

Guilds must be strong for IFAJ to go forward

Owen Roberts
IFAJ Vice President

IFAJ’s strength has always been based on the health of its member guilds. That’s proven true again lately, as guilds have come forward to support the federation’s new global strategy by reaching out to help journalists in less developed countries whose freedom of the press is often restricted.

That help is seen in the guilds’ contribution to co-sponsoring participants in the IFAJ-Agriterra Master Class program. The Master Class, coordinated on behalf of both groups by Agriterra’s Jose van Gelder, is a key cog in the federation’s global strategy.

The master class supports the global mandate by bringing 10 developing country journalists from the southern hemisphere to the IFAJ annual congress, for a special two-day skill development and information exchange program.

It’s a significant resource commitment.  Agriterra supports Jose’s involvement, while about half of the program’s hard costs are graciously supported by BAT. The negotiation for this agreement was led by IFAJ treasurer James Campbell.
However, the remainder of the support must come from other sources.

Three guilds – Canada, Finland and the Netherlands -- have stepped up to answer the call, and at least one more guild is discussing it.

Each guild will support part of the cost of one of the 10 Master Class participants.
Canadian executive member Allison Finnamore said the support is based on feedback from participants in other IFAJ programs, who see the value in these leadership programs.

“Our decision was based on strong support from Alexis Kienlen and Lisa Guenther, IFAJ-Alltech Young Leader award winners from 2012 and 2011, who are both on our national executive, as well as our president Tamara Leigh, who participated in the Exposure-4-Development program last year,” says Finnamore.

IFAJ recognizes the contribution made by these guilds, and indeed, the way all guilds in the federation support the various activities that keep IFAJ vibrant, such as hosting congresses and supporting their executive members’ participation at IFAJ meetings.

Ultimately, this support is contingent on the guilds themselves being healthy. That’s one reason why, as part of the new global strategy, IFAJ is also committing resources to helping support and strengthen individual guilds.

What can IFAJ do to help your guild be stronger? Could it provide or help support a guest speaker, perhaps? Help with professional development activities? Offer tips for successful meetings?

Good health in humans hinges greatly on a steady level of activity. And so it is with IFAJ – active guilds make for a stronger body.

This month IFAJ is starting research, led by Japan member Masaru Yamada, William Nelson at Texas Tech University and me, on members’ most successful approaches to identifying, creating and disseminating agricultural and rural development issues or stories. The idea is to ultimately share these ideas and research results throughout IFAJ and with farm groups. 

Again, it’s the strength of individual guilds that will help this research succeed. We’re hoping the guilds will promote this survey among members and contribute to what should be some of the world’s best examples of successful communication approaches.

So, what makes your guild strong? What does your guild do to ensure long-term success? Let’s use opportunities we have through IFAJ’s facebook page to start a dialogue that will help guilds share good ideas with each other, perhaps in areas that challenge us all, such as financial security, sponsorships and fund raising.

And on the flip side, how can IFAJ help your guild be stronger? If you have some ideas, let me know. Or if your guild needs help, let me know. It’s a good time to ask – thanks to prudent leadership from past executives and strong sponsorship support, IFAJ has the resources available to make sure guilds are as healthy as possible. Our current members need to be at the top of their game as we go forward into new global territory.

Register now for IFAJ Congress in Argentina

Registration is open for the IFAJ Congress, September 1-5 in Argentina.
Experience a congress like no other. A unique opportunity to travel to a far corner of the earth, and set foot in new lands that you have never seen before.

Get ready to follow in the footsteps of the early European explorers, to discover a rich culture in a country that stretches to one of the southernmost points of the world. In a land once referred to as “The world´s grainery”. A land that has tripled its production in the last thirty years. That feeds over 430 million people each year. Propelled by advanced technologies and sustainable agricultural practices. Famous for its agricultural economy.

Visit for more information and registration.

Women Fill Large Farming Roles

Chris Clayton

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton was part of an agricultural development tour to Kenya in early November, sponsored by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists and Agriterra. This article was originally published on and in Progressive Farmer.

In a little village in a highlands region about two hours outside of Nairobi, a group of about 20 farmers and just as many visitors squeeze into a vegetable-grading shed to hear how these farmers pull together their resources to grow more crops and earn a better price.

When details are needed, all the men turn their heads to the lone woman farmer in the group, who stands to explain how the producers are trying to negotiate with grocers to commit to buying in bulk directly from the cooperative.

"We have had a lot of problems with the marketing issue," said Esther Chege, a farmer who heads the group's marketing committee. "We used to plant a crop without a market to sell. We now plant knowing we have a ready market."

Chege explained that negotiations continue with major grocers, but the farmers keep trying to get a commitment. Her explanation reflected two repeated themes that a group of agricultural journalists from around the world saw in Kenya. First, more farmers put their faith in cooperatives to establish a better market for their products. Second, despite the adversity they face, women farmers are moving beyond the role of labor into being some of the most entrepreneurial agricultural producers in the country.

A World Bank survey in Kenya last year suggested agriculture in the country is becoming a female-dominated occupation. Young men in particular are lured to work in cities and view farmers as standing on the low rungs of society.

"Unemployed youth are the biggest problem in Kenya and farming work is considered not just a chore, but sometimes a punishment," said Polly Noyce, a California transplant who has spent most of her adult life as a farmer in Kenya. Noyce is the founder of a private educational farm in western Kenya.


Throughout Kenya it's far easier to find women working on the farm than men. In fact, at the meeting attended by Chege, many of the men showed up because their wives were at home working in the fields. The World Bank estimates that in some Kenyan communities as many as 80% of the farmers are women. Across all of Africa, the percentage of women farmers is even higher.

Yet, Kenyan women traditionally have been limited in their own development as farmers and business people, largely because they have not been allowed to own or inherit land. Some statistics say only 5% of land in the country is held by women, but official numbers don't exist. Under a new constitution ratified by voters in 2010, women can now own and inherit land, but local customs still curtail women from owning property. Corruption in offices such as the Minister of Lands also plays a role in hurting women land ownership.

What that translates into is more difficulty for women getting loans for their farm operations, said Rien Geuze, a business consultant for the Netherlands-based Agriterra, which organized the agricultural development trip for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. Women lack collateral in many cases, even though bankers look more positively at lending to women because they are better at paying back loans and managing family budgets than men. So to get loans, women farmers are working more with cooperatives, which often function as co-signers on credit.

A U.S. State Department staffer working on the Obama administration's Feed the Future initiative on Wednesday testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said increased access to quality inputs and proper credit could likely boost productivity of women farmers in parts of Africa by 20% to 30%.


Tabitha Kiambi farms 17,000 tea bushes on five acres in a mountain area not far from Mount Kenya. She's been growing tea since 1962 and some of her tea bushes have been producing for 45 years. Her farm produces 26 tons of tea a year for a local tea factory; she also harvests fruits and vegetables. Kiambi said she considers her tea operation to be quite a bit more profitable than other crops.

"Tea is good. It's more economically, especially when you want to make a lot of money," Kiambi said. "This is usually plentiful."

Kiambi said one of her biggest issues is getting enough labor. She had three pickers out in the field when she could use as many as eight. A picker will fill a 10-kilogram basket roughly four times in an eight-hour day. Laborers make about 80 shillings a basket, or just under $4 a day. Kiambi will make about $6 for 40 kilograms of tea delivered to the factory.

Peris Njenga chairs the Kiambaa Dairy Cooperative. Peris and her husband George started 15 years ago with one dairy cow, but now have 30 cows, including heifers and calves. In a country where the average dairy farmer may have two milking cows, the Njengas are considered a large farm though their holdings remain under five acres. The land is taken up with vegetables and alfalfa, while the 10 actual milking cows remain penned for zero grazing. The challenge with zero grazing is that a 70-kilogram bag of dairy supplements might cost $20 to add to her feed. The farm produces about 52 gallons of milk daily, which equates to
roughly $65-$70 a day in income.

Asked if women work harder on the farm, "Certainly when it comes to dairy farming," she said, laughing.

In Peris Njenga's role, she also is working to merge her 1,500-farmer cooperative with a larger cooperative in the area to help reduce costs on feed and artificial insemination. Larger cooperatives can negotiate better lending rates with area credit unions, as well as better prices with the larger dairy processors in Nairobi.

At a coffee cooperative near Gatimbi, right along the equator, 30-year-old Mercy Kanini sticks out as the only woman and also the youngest board member of the Mukune Farmers Co-operative. Kanini has about an acre of coffee that produced 5,000 kilograms. At 65 shillings average per kilogram, Kanini's crop made about $3,800. She sees a lot more potential with new varieties of coffee trees. Her goal is to triple production in the next few years. "That is possible with the new trees," said Kanini, who has run her own farm for the past five years. "These new ones are resistant to diseases and produce a lot more."

For more photos visit,

What they love about Argentina

Shane Romig 


Shane Romig is a Foreign Correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal and shares what he loves about Argentina—

Being a reporter in Argentina offers a unique, often maddening and always fascinating pallet with which to paint. The warmth and openness that greets an outsider is enticing, while the individual liberty born of societal chaos is enchanting for one coming from more ordered societies. One’s daily reporting duties involve unraveling layer after layer of bundled improvisations to try and explain why something has happened in a way understandable to someone on the other side of the globe. Of course, a tall glass of Malbec and grilled tenderloin at the end of the day helps.

The Agriculture sector in particular is going through an amazing technological revolution, with genetic modification, cloning and other cutting-edge innovations being rapidly pursued. At the same time, there’s an environmental backlash and efforts to stop foreign buying of farmlands amid global worries over how to feed the planet’s soaring population. Argentina offers a front-row seat as these tensions play out in one of the last agricultural frontiers.

For more about what’s to love about Argentina visit,