In conjunction with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ), Alltech was proud to announce a new award, the IFAJ-Alltech International Award for Leadership in Agricultural Journalism that recognizes excellence and leadership by young journalists. After a nomination process by IFAJ guilds around the world, international judges from Alltech and IFAJ declared Denene Erasmus, editor at Farmer’s Weekly, the largest English language agricultural publication in South Africa, the recipient of the inaugural IFAJ-Alltech International Award for Leadership in Agricultural Journalism.

This is a new award that recognizes excellence and leadership by young journalists and honors Alltech’s late founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons. Erasmus was announced as the recipient of the award during ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE19), held May 19–21, in Lexington, Kentucky.

“This new honor underlines Alltech’s understanding of agricultural journalists’ role in knowledge mobilization,” said IFAJ president Owen Roberts of Canada. “Producers look to agricultural journalists for balanced, evidence-based information that can help them be profitable, knowledgeable and sustainable.”

Erasmus has been an agricultural journalist since 2009 and has won numerous international and national awards for her reporting on the farming and agribusiness sector in Africa; including the Agricultural Writers South Africa/Agri Securitas Agricultural Journalist of the Year award in 2012 and 2014 and the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists/Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award in 2013.

She is a member of the alumni network of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, and holds a master's degree in languages from Stellenbosch University, an honors degree in Media Theory and Practice from the University of Cape Town. She is currently studying towards a degree in economics.


Her writing covers a broad range of topics related to agriculture, agribusiness, African development, rural development and conservation. She has a special interest in stories that examine how global and regional developments within the agriculture sector affects the sustainability of family-owned farms and farming businesses. 

She grew up on a family-run sugar cane farm situated along the east coast of South Africa and while she is now based in Johannesburg, she still visits the farm as often as possible.

The award marks a long tradition of celebrating journalistic achievements, as Dr. Lyons was a storyteller himself, and had a great respect for agricultural journalists and appreciated their ability to share the stories of agriculture. He also understood the importance of mentorship and education and in 2005, Alltech co-founded a young leader program with the IFAJ.

“It is more important than ever to give agriculture a voice and communicate our stories to the world,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “Through our continued partnership with the IFAJ, we are able to support future leaders in agricultural journalism who are passionate about connecting our industry to a global audience.”

Samantha Townsend, a freelance journalist from Australia, was the runner-up for the award. She is a multi-award-winning journalist that has been sharing stories for more than 20 years and is passionate about being a voice for agriculture. Her extensive experience ranges from reporting for main-stream and agricultural media, newspaper editor, agriculture media consultant and at times can be found behind a camera.