Sunday, April 2, 2017

58th IFAJ Congress: Networking among most valued aspects of membership

Chairperson of LOC says networking top of the list at 2017 IFAJ world congress. Photo shows agriculture journalists from Danmark and Gambia (Photo Credit: Tom Bricknell/Australia)
By Modou S. Joof, Pretoria, South Africa

The 2017 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) World Congress opened on Sunday with emphasis on networking as one of the “most valued aspects” of the federation.

Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Nico van Burick, said IFAJ members rate networking opportunities at congresses as among the most valued aspects of their IFAJ membership.

“It is my wish that this will be on top of everyone’s list at the congress in sunny South Africa and you all will make friends for life,” he said in a pre-shared statement.

He said that the congress is also meant for journalists to gain professional development skills and to learn about the host country’s agriculture.

Gateway to Africa

South Africa is a water scarce country where only 12 per cent of land can be used for crop production, but it is Africa’s largest producer and the only net exporter of food on the continent.

Mr. Burick said the country have a modern commercial farming sector as well as small-scale farming and subsistence-based African farming in the deeper rural areas.

“We all know the estimates. To feed a world population of nine billion people by 2050 will require an increase of at least 70 per cent in production,” he said.

“Africa can do it and South Africa is the gateway to the rest of Africa. Already, more than 2000 South African farmers are involved in about 40 African countries.”

Speaking at the Keivitskroon in Pretoria, Charl Senekal, Custodian of Agricultural Writers South Africa, said South African farmers are some of the best in the world.

He said farmers are also keen to learn and black farmers are coming in today and the success stories he hears is that each farmer wants to do better.

Journalists from Togo, Uganda, Kenya and Japan network at welcome dinner (Photo Credit: M.S.Joof/TNBES/April 2)
Critical role

A hundred and thirty six journalists from thirty countries are taking part in this year’s IFAJ congress.

Kobus Steenekamp, Managing Director of Monsanto, recognizes the crucial role they play in the advancement of agriculture in Africa and the world.

He said journalists play a critical role in agricultural development. He said it is important to put back the belief in science and that technology is critical to ensuring household food security.

He said Monsanto, a biotech company, is effectively contributing to agricultural development not only in South Africa but across the world.

Holding under the theme Africa It’s Time, the 2017 IFAJ congress also recognized the 2017 participants of the IFAJ/Dupont Pioneer Master Class and the IFAJ/Alltech Young Leaders Programme at the welcome dinner.

The two groups of 10 participants each were introduced to the congress and presented with awards in recognition of their “outstanding work as agricultural journalists and as future leaders of their countries’ agricultural guilds.”

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