The European Union’s Agriculture Ministers attended a meeting in Milan between 28-30 September, organised by the Italian presidency of the EU to discuss food security.

Hungarian Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas stressed the strategic importance of soil protection. Hungary is also supporting the “International Year of Soils 2015” announced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and is handling the issue of soil protection with suitable weight with relation to the formulation of both sectoral strategies and legislation.

Further issues that require solutions are the losses that occur during the various phases of the food chain and the prevention of food wastage. The formulation of measures that facilitate the development of shorter food chains, promoting the consumption of locally produced foods and the increasing popularity of farmer’s markets all contribute to the preservation of natural resources and the establishment of conscious food consumption. Coordinated action is required to combat the sometimes strong fluctuations in agricultural crop prices. The greater transparency of international trade may contribute to reducing business speculation with relation to agricultural crops.

It is Hungary’s express medium and long-term strategic goal to increase its contribution to domestic and global food security. The Hungarian Government has introduced several measures in recent years to reduce the country’s vulnerability to food price fluctuations, to promote local food production and consumption, to facilitate an increased ratio of distribution via local markets and to introduce healthy and nutritious foods into the public catering system. Advantages provided to family farms, assuring their market access and increasing their production potential may facilitate the satisfaction of food demand in a sustainable manner and accordingly could contribute to reducing poverty and unemployment in rural areas.

The participants of the meeting agreed that farmers must acquire increased professional knowledge and farmers’ organisations must be reinforced so that they can contribute to the development of local and regional markets and enable research and development. Minister Sándor Fazekas emphasised the fact that new technologies must be applied according to the precautionary principle also recognised by the EU, and that that the world’s food supply problems can be solved without the use of genetically modified organisms. We must not undertake unnecessary long-term risks in the interests of short-term and often imaginary, non-existent gains, the Minister declared.

(Ministry of Agriculture Press Office)