The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists has amended its constitution to take a more active role supporting communicators in countries where there is limited freedom of the press.
Delegates to the 59th annual IFAJ congress in New Zealand adopted historic changes to the organisation’s constitution on 14 October.
Membership to the IFAJ was traditionally restricted to organisations in countries which practise freedom of the press as defined by the United Nations.
Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Now, with the new constitutional changes, IFAJ can accept associations of agricultural journalists which declare support for freedom of the press – even in countries where press freedom is limited.
The IFAJ described the move as a “small yet important change that will allow a significant increase in IFAJ membership”.
Immediately following the adoption of the constitutional changes, IFAJ delegates accepted eight new member associations.
These eight associations represent journalists in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Iran, Somalia and Turkey.
IFAJ president Markus Rediger said: “World food production has to increase sustainably to match the population increase.
“Sustainable food production relies on good information, and the transfer of good information requires good communication based on sound knowledge, appropriate skills and engaged networks.”
Mr Rediger said the professional development of journalists and communicators specialising in agriculture was an essential component in ensuring the communication of good information to contribute to an increase in sustainable food production.
The IFAJ is a non-political, professional association for agricultural journalists in 40 countries and supports and encourages the practice of agricultural journalism through member associations that embrace freedom of the press.
The IFAJ gives agricultural journalists and communicators a platform for professional development and international networking.