by Markus Rediger, president of IFAJ
One of the first reactions of a few of our members, after reading about our historical agreement with the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), was: what does this mean for us? A very fair question.
In fact, from the start of the process until the details we had our members in mind.
It all started last year with our vice president Owen Roberts who convinced us of the possibilities that FAO might have to offer for farm journalists worldwide. He played an instrumental role in getting IFAJ and FAO around the table in Berlin last January to search for common ground, which was – as he had stressed before – not hard to find. Our global manager José van Gelder was involved to help work out our member benefits and make sure that both current members and future members would profit from this cooperation. This has finally led to the most crucial part of our memorandum of understanding, being the several initiatives of the collaboration.
The one that will be implemented soon, is that FAO opens up her database with statistics, photos and all sorts of other relevant information to the IFAJ and her members. We will offer this access with a link on our IFAJ website. To find your way quickly in the enormous amount of info, you will receive a simple set of instructions.
Furthermore we agreed on a new annual award. This award will be open for all members and all kind of media, as it will be themed and not restricted to writing or broadcasting or such. During our upcoming congress in Scotland, we will launch this new award with all specifics and of course with more information on the prize itself.
Finally FAO has offered us their premises for any upcoming IFAJ event, including their International Media and Knowledge Centre facilities. Together with the Italian guild we are exploring opportunities for that. As a starter, the Italian guild will held her annual meeting in FAO headquarters later this year. A perfect example of benefitting directly from this cooperation!
FAO and IFAJ have both agreed to keep on exploring opportunities. These are just the main activities we agreed upon.
I strongly believe that this MoU will help us to increase international information on agricultural issues. It gives journalists a reliable source. But it will also help to look beyond our national boundaries and raise awareness on the importance of sustainable development of the rural South in order to secure food in the decades to come