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ÖMKi landrace tomato seedlings are among the Highlights of Hungary

We feature among the Highlights of Hungary

Highlights of Hungary is a non-profit initiative which since 2014 has been recognising and spreading the work about Hungary’s greatest creative achievements. The essence of the program is best expressed by its associated slogan: this year's candidates were assembled by the Highlights ambassadors under the watchwords of ‘DO, CREATE, ENRICH!

We were nominated by Richárd Farkas, the chef at Pajta Bistro, who got to know ÖMKi’s landrace tomato varieties last summer. 2020's Dining Guide Restaurant of the Year Sustainability Prize winner Richárd Farkas, chef at Pajta Bisztró in the Western Hungarian Őrség region, accepted the role of ÖMKi landrace tomato ambassador by adopting forty seedlings. To crown the 2020 harvest season, and at ÖMKi’s request, Richárd and Dóra Havas, one of the country’s most popular gastro-bloggers jointly presented the unique gastronomic possibilities inherent in different organic landraces. Among other things, they drew attention as they cooked to the fact that traditional Hungarian tomato varieties have unique flavours, which are wonderfully well adapted to local environmental conditions. These are not only suitable for use in traditional recipes, but can compete with imported ingredients at the highest level, within a new Hungarian gastronomy committed to the principles of sustainability.

“Tomatoes are among the most popular ingredients of Hungarian cuisine, but most Hungarians think first of Italian and Spanish varieties. The diverse and high-quality Hungarian landrace varieties were known to very few before the work of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. Thanks to their efforts, we can proudly use, buy or raise these tomato varieties in our kitchen gardens, or even on a balcony. ”

Thanks again to Highlights ambassador Richard Farkas for the nomination, and for his kind words!

Our landrace tomatoes research

We launched our participatory research on the usability of Hungarian tomato landraces on organic farms in 2012. At that time all landraces had been crowded out of public production, so we obtained the seeds we needed for the research from the Centre for Plant Diversity, which is a gene bank located in Tápiószele. The aim of the analysis was to reintroduce landraces that were the most suitable for organic production into Hungarian gardens so that their special and diverse colour, shapes and flavours could be rediscovered. In other words, the objective was to enrich the genetic diversity of plants produced in Hungary by preserving the outstanding value of our agricultural heritage. In the first years of the research we studied 35 tomato landraces on 28 cooperating organic farms across the country. Then from 2015 10 tomato landraces were chosen to be studied in detail for three production years, in cooperation with the Szent István University. The landraces that proved to be the best based on production results, tastings and composition analyses were presented to the world during a seedling adoption event in 2017. Due to the great interest and success, a national store chain helped to bring these landraces back to gardens the last two years. 

What is the significance of landraces?

Based on data from 2014, there are 369,000 known species of flowering plant but we only use 200 of these species for food production. Even more thought-provoking, according to some data from 2017, is that from these 200 plant species, just nine account for 66% of global plant production.[1] The problem is that by losing their genetic diversity these cultivated plants become vulnerable to the more and more extreme and unpredictable impacts of climate change. Landrace populations developed through natural and human selection are able to adapt to the continuously changing environment, weather, and market demands due to their diversity. They are the basic genetic resources for implementing a more adaptable sustainable agricultural model adapted to the local conditions and guaranteeing the independence of farmers.

Vote and promote sustainable food production!

Those who grow landrace organic tomato seedlings are helping not only to preserve their own health, but also to protect our agricultural heritage and environment. At the same time, they support sustainable domestic agriculture, including many small producers.

It will be possible to vote for Highlights of Hungary candidates, including our landrace tomato seedling initiative, starting in February. With your vote, you are not only voting for ÖMKi landrace variety tomato seedlings, but also promoting the importance of landrace varieties, agrobiodiversity, local cultivation and, last but not least, organic farming.

Follow us and vote for us! Let's promote landscape varieties and organic farming together!


[1]https://more.bham.ac.uk/farmerspride/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2019/05/FP_factsheet_Hungarian_final_low_res.pdf

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