Over two hundred journalists from more than forty countries are in Wageningen to attend the IFAJ World Congress, a four-day congress for agricultural journalism. People can attend lectures and workshops about new agricultural methods and concepts, but also have a look on a farm to see the way these work in practice. An impression of the conference.
Patrick Paintsil from Ghana. © Luuk Zegers
The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) organises an annual agricultural congress for journalists. The location for this year’s event was chosen to be Wageningen because of the WUR centenary. The theme of the IFAJ2018 World Congress is Dutch Roots: small country big solutions. ‘We don’t want to tell people how to approach agriculture; what we want is to show them the possibilities’, says Jacqueline Wijbenga, one of the event’s organisers.
Patrick Paintsil from Ghana writes about agriculture for Business & Financial Times. ‘Where I come from, we have a lot of agricultural challenges. Countries like the Netherlands are very advanced in this field.’ Paintsil wants to bring back the knowledge he will gain during Dutch Roots back to Ghana. ‘I’ve already learned a lot about urban farming, smart farming and organic farming. I want to educate our farmers by writing articles about these topics. Introduce them to new ways of farming.’
Sustainable agricultural concepts
Gerhard Uys of the South-African Farmer’s Weekly is curious about the practical activities of Dutch Roots. ‘I’m looking forward to the farm visits. If you want to transport technology to other countries, you need to show how it’s used in practice. That way, you can demonstrate what the technology can actually do.’
Uys is mostly interested in methods to make agriculture more sustainable. ‘By introducing new sustainable concepts, things start changing slowly. When you make people aware of the progress in sustainable farming in other countries, we can also begin moving in that direction.’
David Eppenberger from Switzerland (left) and Gerhard Uys from South Africa. © Luuk Zegers
David Eppenberger is a Swiss freelance journalist. He mainly writes about vegetables. Eppenberger regularly visits the Netherlands out of interest for greenhouse horticulture. ‘This congress introduces me to other aspects of Dutch agriculture.’
He is also curious to know how the Netherlands can export so many agricultural products being such a small country. ‘The Netherlands is about the same size as Switzerland, but it is the second biggest exporter of agricultural products, while we are not. For me, it’s interesting to see how this is done. I think this country is actually way too small to produce so much agricultural products in a sustainable way. But at this congress, we see a lot of potential solutions to make it more sustainable.’
Judith Lambela from Zambia. © Luuk Zegers
Judith Lambela works as an agricultural journalist in Zambia. ‘As an agricultural journalist, you have to be at this conference, so you can understand the developments in agriculture on a global level. What are the challenges, which solutions are there, and in which direction are we going?’
Lambela had trouble choosing between the workshops and the lectures. ‘I knew I had to learn something about dairy, because this country is big in dairy. But also the concept of urban farming: why don’t we bring agriculture into the small places that we live in? For example, with concepts like vertical farming. Incredible.’
Caridad Calero and Jesus Lopez from Spain. © Luuk Zegers
Jesus Lopez and Caridad Calero who work for the Spanish Editorial Agrícola are mainly interested in the themes of ethics, freedom of press and fake news. Calero: ‘But also the more scientific workshops given by Wageningen researchers, like the one on bananas.’
Lopez also sees Dutch Roots as a great opportunity to expand his network. ‘It’s important to get in touch with people from all around the world. Personal contact is important, because if you want to know something about developments in other countries, you can ask the people you meet here. So we’re not just here for the lectures and workshops, but also for the people.’