Wednesday, January 25, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I spent the last week in Berlin, Germany, attending executive meetings of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. We were hosted by International Green Week, the world's largest food, agriculture and horticulture show.

The show features exhibitors from around the world, and many selling food and showcasing the agricultural specialties of their part of the world.

Here are a few sights... More to come in future blog posts...

This lovely German potato farmer seemed thrilled that I came to visit his booth in the agricultural section of International Green Week. He proudly told me that they had 420 varieties of potatoes on display.

Guess which country had the large tulip display? Holland, of course.

Pakistan's booth had a heavy emphasis on food traceability and food safety.

These guys didn't appear very impressed with International Green Week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Farmers work together

It's pretty cool to watch a group work together -- especially when farmers band together to accomplish a task.

Many are self-proclaimed loners who admit to having to work a bit to share ideas with each other. But in this case, farmers in Ontario are teaming up in an attempt to set a new world record by harvesting 160 acres of soybeans with more than 100 combines in under 10 minutes.

The record attempt is part of Harvest for Hunger, a unique project organized by five local area farmers -- Richard Van Donkersgoed, Peter Rastorfer, Mike Koetsier, Randy Drenth and John Tollenaar -- to raise funds for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and help end global hunger.

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers will sell the harvested soybean crop in a live unreserved charity auction during the event, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. The Canadian International Development Agency will also match proceeds raised in the auction.

Harvest for Hunger is a collaborative community effort involving more than 300 volunteers and more than 100 combines. Everything has been donated including the use of the land, field work, seed, fertilizer, crop protection, fuel and crop scouting. Ritchie Bros. is donating its auction services, staff and an auctioneer to support the event.

The harvest will yield about 8,000 bushels of beans which will be divided and auctioned in lots ranging in size from one bushel to 1,600 bushels (enough to fill a 40 tonne truck). Some of the crop will be sold as crushed beans for soybean meal or Identity Preserved beans (non-genetically modified beans that can be exported). Bidding on lots will be take place on-site during the Harvest for Hunger event. Each lot will be sold to the highest bidder, with no minimum bids or reserve prices.

"All the funds raised from the harvest will help the Canadian Foodgrains Bank provide critical food aid to drought ridden areas such as Ethiopia and Kenya," said Richard Van Donkersgoed, Fundraising Coordinator for Harvest for Hunger.

Harvest for Hunger will take place on Highway 23, just one kilometre north of Monkton at noon on Friday, Sept. 30. The public is invited to watch the soybean harvest and bid in the live charity auction. Lunch and drinks will be available by donation. Local dignitaries will also be on-site to determine whether a new harvesting world record is set, based on time and acreage.

"Community events like Harvest for Hunger speak to the strong heritage of Canadian farmers feeding the world," said Jim Cornelius, Executive Director, Canadian Foodgrains Bank. "We are grateful for the volunteers and donors who are working together in support of our mission to end global hunger."

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end world hunger through the collection and donation of grain and cash. To date, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank has provided more than one million tonnes of food to people in 80 countries around the world. Primary support for the organization comes from growing projects with farmers and communities in Canada's agricultural sector.

Friday, September 23, 2011

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.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

After a very long absence from blogging (no excuse!), I offer this link to you on Wordless Wednesday. And thanks to Jennifer MacDonald, New Brunswick ag promoter extraordinaire, for sharing this.

Cows sculptures created out of junked cars.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How wet is it?

We've been hearing about flooding in Canada's Prairies, but how wet is it? It's hard to understand the impact of the excessive moisture without being there, but this video does an excellent job showing us just how disastrous the situation is.

Let's hope the rain clouds dissipate and the sun shines soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

IFAJ 2011 Sneak Peak: Canada's Outdoor Farm Show

When the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists meet in Ontario in September, one of the sites we'll have a chance to visit is Canada's Outdoor Farm Show.

I've never been to the show, but it has been on my To Do list for several years. I'm quite looking forward to attending with my IFAJ colleagues. The video above is a sample of last year's show.