For the first time Georgia attended at International Congress of Agricultural Journalists

From March 29 till April 9, International Congress of Agricultural Journalists took place in South Africa. The congress was organized by International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, aiming to establish international network of agricultural journalists, local guilds and associations of agricultural journalists and develop agricultural sector in general.

International Federation of Agricultural Journalists was established on November, 16, 1956 in Paris, France. First the federation was a union oriented on to teach agricultural journalism in various countries, build the capacity of agricultural journalists and support them to meet and share the experiences, as well as organize discussions on diverse professional issues in a sustainable way. At the same time IFAJ helped various countries to establish agricultural associations in those countries.

Nowadays, there are 45 countries joined in IFAJ including agricultural journalists and communication specialists from agricultural business companies as well. Those associations and guilds create equal platform serving better communication and information exchange systematically.

The above mentioned congress carries out once a year in different countries. This year it has held in South Africa and approximately 140 representatives from 30 countries attended in the event, including agricultural associations, communications and PR specialists from business companies.

The congress consisted of Master Class for agricultural journalists and communication specialists, conference and tours in local farms and enterprises. At the congress, agricultural sphere actors, farmers, business company representatives and journalists discussed on local agricultural issues and its global significance by panel.

Among the participant countries of the congress, Georgia took part for the first time. Within the selected participants were, Maia Mamulashvili, the head of Kakheti’s Khma, regional media company and GRMA, Georgian Regional Media Association and Nestan Mermanishvili, Media Coordinator /PR specialist at MOLI in Kakheti project. The visit was facilitated by MOLI in Kakheti project, funded by Swiss Government.

Totally, 20 participants took part in the Master class from various countries, including agricultural journalists, those who don’t have agricultural associations in their countries and “Young Leaders” with the already established associations. Within the framework of the Master class, Leaders helped other participants how to establish association based on the agricultural knowledge and experience considering own experiences. Also the representatives of agricultural business companies mentioned the role and significance of agricultural journalism in their presentations at the Master class.

Some interesting facts about South Africa…

South Africa is one of the productive agricultural countries in the continent.

The surface area of South Africa is 121 million hectares. Population is 55 million.

12% of the total surface is arable. Maize is widely grown, followed by soy beans, wheat, sunflower and sugarcane. Other 69 % of the surface is a pasture and the rest of the land is not completely productive due to lack of irrigation capacities.

Within the framework of the congress the tours held in various farms and enterprises in order to have a general impression on South African agriculture. One of the tours held in Pannar and Pioneer, Dupont’s daughter companies, including grain farms and enterprises. Those companies produce grain and then sell to farmers. Pioneer owns one of the highly equipped GMO laboratories in the world. They collect genes from different countries in the world and produce the hybrid corn based on the approval from the Ministry of Agriculture in SA. Despite that, the company has insect laboratory in order to prevent grains from the damages caused by the insects.

Another tour took place in Rossouw Family business farms and enterprises. The family has been operating for 50 years and produces 3 000 ha maize, 1 000 soy beans, 650 ha citrus, 65 ha blueberries. Also they have 900 000 layers producing 30 000 eggs per day, 1.3 million broilers and 1 500 cattle farms.

Next day we visited Table Grapes enterprise. Fanie Rossouw bought his first farm in 1928.And since then the enterprise has been operating. Nowadays, the company has 11 farming units owned by Rossouw Family.

The company produces 1.6 million cartons seedless Table grapes per season, 8 million kilograms totally. More than 90 % of product is exported to different countries, including 20% to EU, 10% to UK, 9 % to Canada, 60 % to China and Eastern Asia and local market as well.

The enterprise has a social responsibility to the employees. They provide them with the living facilities, clinic service, education, library, square for sport activities, etc. Moreover kindergarten is functioning for children of the employees during the working process.

In South Africa winemaking tradition has circa 350 years history. Among the ancient species of grapes are Pinotage and Nouvelle. Nuy Valley, the local enterprise has been working since 1963 and produces 13 million liters of wine per year.

Fair Cape is a cattle farm and enterprise which has been operating for more than 20 years. Mainly the products, including cheese, milk, yoghurts, milkshake are realized in local market. There are up to 5 000 cows delivering 40 liters per day.

It is worth to mention that there are 40 000 farming units in the country which collectively contribute up to 12 % in country’s GDP.

Such kinds of enterprises are very successful in South Africa. It is important to mention that 5 % of total population works in agro sphere. Despite that there are some vital problems in the country. One of the top problems is crime. According to the existing statistics, the percent of the criminal occasions has significantly decreased from 70 % till 30 % since 1970s, up to now but still it significantly influences on the country’s economic development.

According to the evaluation of the local specialists, the problem derives from the lack of education within youth. Youth has no possibilities for self- expression and in this order the number of criminal occasions is increasing. At the same time it significantly influences on the employment. The unemployment in the country is up to 25 %.

World Health Organization shared statistical data describing potential growth of population around 2050. The organization presumes that the number of population will be increased up to 9 billion and the world farms must produce 70 % more food than they do now. According to the assessment of international economy experts, South Africa has enough resources to become “Bread Basket” of the continent at least.


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