Canadian farm journalists examine food crisis

Alan Scholz of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada is the winner of the first ever International Federation of Agricultural Journalists-YARA award for Reporting on Sustainable World Agriculture.

Scholz’s story, Food Scarcity – A Myth?, appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of Sustainable Futures magazine, published by the Agricultural Institute of Canada. Judges said Scholz “dared to ask if there really is a problem with sustainability, and like good journalism often does, it offered a contrary direction to popular thought.” In that way, they said, it opened the door for further debate and discussion. But despite its clear perspective, the story was well balanced, offering no single, simple feel-good solution.

“The writer described this complex, emotional topic fairly, in an easy-to-understand, realistic way that can basically be summed up by saying a multi-faceted approach is needed to address the complicated food problem,” they said.

Laura Rance of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada received distinguished recognition for her story in the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper, ”Put on pot of soup, help fight food crisis.” Judges called her story “very well-balanced, discussing pros and cons.” They said Rance “combines different aspects of the world food situation in a very convincing way. Conclusions from FAO and from researchers are taken into account and presented, so they can be used in our daily life. She succeeds in presenting a complicated problem and a simple set of solutions.”

Distinguished recognition was also given to Deanna Lush of Australia for her story in Stock & Land newspaper, entitled ”Crop quality key to feeding the world.” The judges said Lush “focused on better food quality, and not just quantity, an important aspect of producing enough food for more than nine billion people in 2050.” They noted the story focuses on nutrient deficiency – sometimes called hidden hunger – and praised Lush for describing farmers’ and scientists’ role in reducing nutrient deficiency. Several relevant cases are used, giving the reader a thorough understanding of the problem.

The awards were announced at the 2011 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress awards banquet in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

The competition drew 23 entries from eight countries. The theme was how to feed a growing world population.

Judges for the inaugural competition were Henning Otte Hansen of Denmark, Cathy Reade of Australia’s Crawford Fund and a team of Fred Kirschenmann, Jeri Neal and Laura Miller of the University of Iowa’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The award was sponsored by YARA International ASA, a global firm specializing in agricultural products and environmental protection agents.

The IFAJ is a non-political, professional association for agricultural journalists in 31 countries. It serves as a platform for communication, information and professional development for agricultural journalists from all over the world.

The IFAJ-YARA competition co-ordinator was IFAJ secretary general Owen Roberts of Canada. Guidance, support and liaison activities for the inaugural award were provided by IFAJ member Jorgen Lund Christiansen of Denmark.

Further information about the IFAJ-YARA award is availble on the IFAJ website, or by contacting Roberts.

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