by Carlos M. Curci González
If you look up the term “organize” in the dictionary you will surely find many concepts related to “schedule” or “structure,” to the realization of something.
But no book can show the natural forces that push forward an organized cause. That is precisely what has happened in the last 10 years of IFAJ in the American continent and especially in the southern part. It has been a process driven by institutional challenges, personal effort, business decisions and communications interests. Forces that came together as one and helped show the local model of agriculture to the world, and to advance the institutionalization of communication in the region.
The IFAJ, with nearly 60 years of history, knew that challenges would occur. In 2009 and 2011, with Congresses were held in the USA and Canada, then, more recently in 2013, the Congress was held in Latin America, in Argentina. The IFAJ Congress was held in the youngest region in the history of mankind. For the first time 30 journalists from different countries of Latin America attended the annual IFAJ Congress with colleagues from other continents. It was a unique experience. Following the Congress in Argentina the Network of Agricultural Communicators in Latin America and the Caribbean (Red CALC) was born.
Argentina has an entity that brings together 500 agricultural communicators, and was coincidentally founded the same year as IFAJ (1956). There are very few cases of this type of institutional development though. Uruguay organized in 2012 and this year Brazil joined. There are also efforts in Chile, Bolivia, Mexico and Guatemala that will surely shape them within the framework of Red CALC and IFAJ. There is a clear interest in the region to organize and share professional knowledge.
One of the pillars of Red CALC is education. We will be running an online professional development course in agricultural journalism. The three-month course will expand knowledge and professional tools for agricultural communicators.
We are also shaping market research in order to understand each country better; quantifying ag-journalists and mapping out specific media to find out more about the agricultural sector and really begin to know each other better.
The Latin American food industry has managed to position itself in world trade. Only in the last five years, the growth in sales of the sector exceeded 37 percent in relation to the rest of the world. Also Latin American agribusiness has been ranked second worldwide, pulling in international trade. The economic weight of the sector is reflected in the growth of its communications too. And that is where we are. We are working. Organizing Latin America.
Carlos M. Curci González is General Coordinator of Agricultural Network Communicators in Latin America and the Caribbean (Red CALC)