Happy news-y year!

January 20, 2020

Achieving good news stories in traditional media and hits on social media platforms are important parts of our work to raise awareness of the benefits to Australia and developing countries from international agricultural research. Last year was very productive in this regard, with a diverse and comprehensive collection of print, broadcast and online media coverage, and a much greater engagement through our social media channels.

This coverage is the result of concerted efforts to raise awareness of issues related to food security, and the role that international agricultural research has to play in responding to poverty and hunger.

The work of Australian researchers, volunteers and students, and our global partners in agricultural research and development across numerous countries, commodities and disciplines culminated in interesting and relevant good news stories.

The events we hold; the international experts we host; helping our stakeholders with engagement activities; consistent media relationships; and, supporting journalist visits to developing countries all provide fantastic opportunities to engage the media and Australian audiences.

A real highlight of traditional media coverage this year was generated from our trip to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Morocco with Gregor Heard, national grains industry reporter for Australian Community Media Agricultural Publishing and Clarisa Collis from Coretext, the Crawford Fund Journalism Award Winner from 2018.

Clarisa Collis photographs genebank hero, Ahmed Amri of ICARDA

These journalists travelled to Morocco with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT’s Council on Australia Arab Relations. A suite of stories resulted including those in Australia’s key regional newspapers such as The Land, Stock Journal and The Stock & Land and in the GRDC magazine Ground Cover and their online platforms. The stories had a particular focus on farming in low-rainfall areas and wheat R&D, with gene banks, identifying useful genetic traits, trade opportunities for Australia, R&D opportunities for Australian wheat growers, durum wheat breeding programs, young researchers, and biosecurity research to protect Australian crops into the future all in the spotlight.

“We believe that ‘seeing is believing’ and hosting these journalist visits results in a better understanding of the work and more personal and engaging reporting, which is more engaging for the audience,” said Ms Cathy Reade, The Crawford Fund’s Director of Outreach.

A few other media highlights in 2019 include:

  • Promoting the work of esteemed international experts visiting Australia including:
    • Shenggen Fan, the Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute and a member of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health who discussed the challenges of the global food system and the growing recognition that, in addition to addressing multiple burdens of malnutrition, there is an increasing need to seek an environmentally sustainable food system in light of climate change;
    • Howarth Bouis, the Founder of HarvestPlus and World Food Prize Laureate, discussing the importance of crop biofortification; and,
    • Crawford Fund 2019 Medal awardee Professor Lindsay Falvey, Chair of the International Livestock Research Institute, and Emeritus Professor of the University of Melbourne who spoke about the opportunities available for next the generation of agricultural scientists to tackle the world’s food challenges.
  • Our 2019 annual conference, titled ‘Weathering the ‘Perfect Storm’: Addressing the Agriculture, Energy, Water, Climate Change Nexus’ which again attracted national print, radio and TV coverage
  • Assisting ACIAR and other partners with their media work, such as the December visit by the ACIAR Indo-Dairy project people and the February conference of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society

In relation to our social media efforts, our 2019 Annual Conference attracted significant social media interest, with the conference hashtag #19cfconf trending at number 1 in Canberra during our Parliamentary Conference on 13 August. Other highlights for the year include:

  • Engagement increased 178% compared to 2018, to almost 40,000 likes, comments, shares and retweets
  • The number of followers increased by 32%, which is 41% more than in 2018
  • Crawford Fund social media platforms reached 2.74 million, a 40% increased over 2018
  • There were 11,400 clicks to content, which was 71% more than in 2018

We would like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Council on Australia Arab Relations (CAAR) for their grant which supported our journalist visit to Morocco.

We would also like to take this opportunity to once again congratulate Natalie Parletta as the winner of our Food Security Journalism Award in 2019, for her article, The little-known bush foods about to change the world. We look forward to sharing our work with Natalie this year, and to the launch of our 2020 Journalism Award in the coming months.

2020 promises to be just as busy for us, as we continue to share our training, mentoring, volunteering and outreach activities with you.

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