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Brazil's agricultural economy is thriving and modern ... and so is its network of nearly 700 agricultural journalists and communications professionals.

This spring, members of the network, Rede Brasil de Jornalistas Agro (Brazilian Agricultural journalists' Network), hosted representatives from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) at Syngenta's national headquarters in Sao Paulo for a professional development and information exchange event.

Brazil is not an IFAJ member. But that could change, as the world gets smaller thanks to technology and global development. So IFAJ and the Brazilian network designed an event to introduce the groups to each other, see where their interests intersect and discuss collaboration.

That kind of production and export activity keeps agricultural journalists there busy writing and broadcasting stories, in conventional and digital media. These include regional and national daily TV and radio programs on products, input prices and technical news, and print and digital magazines for rural interests or specialized segments of the farm economy (vegetables, orange juice, pigs, poultry, milk and beef, for example). Various breed associations have their own magazines. Journalists increasingly use smartphones for research, and are forming discussion groups in whatsapp.


In the early planning stages, IFAJ representatives and their key Brazilian contact, veteran agricultural journalist and photographer Luiz Pitombo, envisioned a gathering where a handful of curious Brazilian agricultural journalists could meet informally with a few members of the federation visiting Brazil as part of IFAJ's Exposure 4 Development (E4D) program.

The E4D program, sponsored this year by DeLaval, creates opportunities for small groups of IFAJ members--selected for the program by a jury--to explore production and marketing in countries with dynamic, developing agricultural economies. Over the past several years, E4D has given chances for IFAJ members to visit non-member countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and now--Brazil.

As it turns out, Brazilian agricultural journalists were clearly interested in connecting globally. The envisioned half-dozen participants grew a standing-room-only crowd of 75 (and 20 or so more online).

Brazilian organizer Pitombo and his co-organizing counterpart from the U.S. Steve Werblow, IFAJ's Secretary-General, created a program designed to stimulate discussion and enlighten both groups.

At the Sao Paulo meeting, Rede Brasil de Jornalistas learned that besides global outreach, IFAJ is also committed to professional development (embodied in programs such as E4D) and youth development. In fact, one of the IFAJ presenters, Tullikki Viilo of Finland, was a participant in the 2018 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism program, in The Netherlands.

Viilo, along with Werblow, Brazilian agricultural journalist Vera Ondei, Argentinian agricultural journalists' guild president Adalberto Rossi and me, presented perspectives on trends in digital journalism and communications, a vital part of connecting with farmers and other agricultural stakeholders in a network as large and dynamic as Brazil's. Other topics of common interest discussed included the role of agricultural journalists in knowledge mobilization, as well as the outlook for print and traditional broadcast media.

Meeting co-organizer Pitombo said he was "pleased and impressed" with the response and participation of his Brazilian colleagues in the meeting with IFAJ.

by Owen Roberts, IFAJ President, Guelph University

Caption: Top photo: Brazilian ag journalists gather following the information sharing meeting.

Caption: Bottom photo: (L to R) Brazilian agricultural journalist Vera Ondei, IFAJ President (and this article's author) Owen Roberts and IFAJ Secretary-General Steve Werblow.
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Author:Roberts, Owen
Publication:Agri Marketing
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Jun 1, 2019

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