The “living lab” of Hungarian organic agriculture is on the rise
Five new researchers joined our team, we expanded our activities, and further developed our current projects.
Although we have a long list of successes from last year, we are now focusing on preparing the tasks for 2020. We will invite the stakeholders of the organic sector to a national conference to be held 18th of March. We are also expanding our experiments to include more research on soil quality, digital agriculture and animal husbandry during the year, and we remain the Hungarian leader in fostering agroecological transition in agricultural practice. In 2020 ÖMKi will also takes on the organisational tasks of the professional extension network supporting organic farmers and those who want to convert to organic production.
We have been developing our unique cooperation based network for eight years and it was given an outstanding opportunity in 2019: our on-farm project can be further expanded until 2023 from the HUF 1.1 billion European Union support awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Hungarian National Rural Network (MNVH). As a part of the process, five new researchers have joined our team. They will expand work on the current topics of the on-farm network – such as soil investigation, nutrient management, digital agriculture and diversification –, and will also deal with animal husbandry, which is one of the new research topic we can focus on thanks to our expansion.
Apart from our on-farm project, we will also support Hungarian organic farmers and those planning to go organic. We will do this through knowledge transfer and by demonstrating agroecological methods in the future. From 2020 we will also take on the organic farming related central tasks of the professional extension network to be developed within the Rural Development Programme. By expanding advisory activities, the network aims to have consultants in as many Hungarian regions as possible, providing proper support to farmers who want to convert to organic farming.
The Central Eastern Europe countries are already preparing to develop and introduce agroecological methods preferred by the new Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, which will be elaborated soon: The workgroup called “Agroecology and sustainable yields” of the Bioeast initiative joining 13 countries in the region is being coordinated together by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture and ÖMKi.
Last year we successfully continued the awareness raising educational work we launched in 2018 on organic farming, which is a diverse and sustainable food economy model. As a part of this process, forgotten tomato landraces whose organic seedlings have been donated to the “Garden Border” (Kerthatár) Community Garden of the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre (KÉK) proved to be outstanding when Dóra Havas (Purple Fig), one of the most popular Hungarian gastro bloggers, tested them in her kitchen in 2019. This year two new landraces – Cegléd and Tolna – will be also available, and the organic seedlings are to be sold also through delivery points.
As a “living lab” we joined the stakeholders of the sector, managed the practical introduction of the research results and together we organized two successful harmonization meetings in 2019 (in February and June) with the participation of researchers, farmers, millers and bakers for the promotion of forgotten ancient cereal landraces. We are to continue this work with einkorn and emmer landraces. A new kind of flour made from ancient cereal landraces is also expected to be reintroduced in the food supply chain.
We are also carrying out advocacy activities in order to provide up-to-date knowledge on sustainable food economy, and to help Hungarian organic farmers join international professional dialogue as much as possible. 2020 will be 9th time that ÖMKi organizes the Central Eastern Europe section at Biofach (in Nuremberg), which is the world’s leading trade fair and professional meeting for organic food. In addition, we are organizing a sectoral conference for the stakeholders of the Hungarian organic sector in Kecskemét on 18th of March.