Hungary supports FAO’s goals; several years of cooperation as well as operational projects and scholarship programmes testify to this, among others, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture said on Tuesday at the 41st session of the European Commission on Agriculture of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Budapest.

Sándor Farkas highlighted that Hungary provides financial and technical support for FAO for the purposes of development projects implemented in partner countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. A regional development in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been completed recently, while in Kazakhstan Hungary is supporting the implementation of a programme which seeks to help small producers with accessing markets, he said. As part of FAO’s Hungarian scholarship programme, so far more than 300 students from 41 countries have been granted scholarships, he added.

The Deputy Minister also drew attention to the fact that in consequence of globalising trade and climate change, new pests pose a threat to plant health. The introduction into the European Union of non-indigenous diseases and pests could cause serious economic losses, posing an indirect threat to food chain safety and the environment. Therefore, the core principles of the new plant health regulation include prevention, detection, the timely elimination of pests, risk assessment, crisis management and awareness measures, he said.

Mr Farkas stressed that the new plant health regulation will take effect in Member States of the European Union from 14 December 2019, and Hungary supports aspirations which are aimed at identifying and reducing the plant health risks of pests. During the period ahead, the Ministry of Agriculture will lay particular emphasis on the appropriate communication of changes in plant health regulations. It is extremely important to prepare the staff of monitoring authorities, producers and other stakeholders on an ongoing basis, he added.

The UN General Assembly decided to declare the period between 2019 and 2028 a Decade of Family Farming, Mr Farkas said, adding that it is a priority for the Hungarian government to find appropriate means and methods for successfully promoting and supporting family farming. In Hungary as well as in other countries a number of initiatives have already been launched, both in the public and private sectors, which seek to promote short supply chains, local production and producers’ markets. He also said that World Food Day, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – which was called to life by FAO at Hungary’s initiative in 1979 – also seeks to draw attention to the problems of food production and distribution and the importance of food safety. The Ministry of Agriculture, too, is regularly involved in the Budapest programmes organised on the occasion of the World Day on 16 October, as a way of supporting FAO’s goals.