“Hungary’s priority goals include providing high-quality food to domestic consumers and supporting food processing and labour-intensive sectors, primarily through promoting family farming”, Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas said in Rome at the Global Dialogue organised to assess and close the UN International Year of Family Farming.

In his speech, Sándor Fazekas pointed out that the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture has played an active role in the realisation of International Year objectives: On 4-6 March 2014, Budapest hosted the Global Forum and Expo on Family Farming, which was attended by over 600 participants from 104 countries. In addition to the event in Budapest, the Expo provided family farms from participant countries to showcase their products and activities. The summary of the achievements of the Global Forum, which Sándor Fazekas presented to the leaders of the FAO, the World Food Programme, the International Fund for Agriculture Development and the Committee on Global Food Security, served as an important basis for further events organised during the rest of the International Year.

DownloadPhoto: Press Office of the Ministry of Agriculture

The Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture explained that the migration of the rural population to cities, the increasing average age of farmers and the widening of inequalities between industrial agricultural production enterprises and family farmers represented a challenge for many countries. Equitable opportunities must be provided to family farmers to help Find solutions for the food supply requirements of the world’s increasing population and create a more liveable countryside, he added.

Mr. Fazekas said that the backbone of Hungarian agriculture is made up of family farmers and the economy relies on them to a significant extent. Having recognised the importance of this form of farming, the Hungarian Government is doing everything possible to create a suitable agricultural policy and legislative environment for family farming to assure the survival and reinforcement of this method of production, and to make life in rural areas more attractive. Within the framework of this policy, the Government is funding the development of rural infrastructure, has introduced measures to further develop food security, is providing training to family farmers, is facilitating the establishment of short food chains via farmers’ markets, is supporting the introduction of quality control systems, has introduced special tax regulations and simplified administrative procedures, has developed the financial environment to increase the availability of loans, is providing targeted funding to young farmers and is funding agro-tourism and organic farming.

In addition, the Government is making sure school and kindergarten children consume healthy, local foods through its various school catering programmes. These programmes also provide a market for local farmers. Through promoting local production, processing and consumption, Hungary is also contributing to reducing food loss and waste, which in an increasing global problem, the Hungarian Minister of Agriculture pointed out.

While presenting Hungarian practices, Mr. Fazekas stressed that in addition to the rational management of natural resources and the preservation of biodiversity, the Government is also promoting the use of local knowledge and tradition coupled with highly developed technologies, to achieve high production values without undertaking the partly known, but also somewhat unknown risks of genetic manipulation. This results in the protection of the environment, suitable income for farmers and higher employment and a better standard of living in rural areas.

The Minister of Agriculture said Hungary would be happy to share its related experiences in future with any and all countries and organisations interested. The Hungarian Government is providing funding and/or agriculture experts to support several FAO development projects that facilitate the reinforcement of family farming and the development of local food production.

Through the FAO-Hungary Fellowship Programme, which is funded by the Government, some 200 students from 28 developing countries have studied at Hungarian universities, gained knowledge of the country’s best agricultural practices and received Master’s degrees since 2008. The objective of the Programme is to enable qualified students to make use of the professional knowledge they have acquired in Hungary back at home, thus contributing to the development of family farming and both economic and cultural cooperation between our countries, Minister Fazekas said in closing.

On the side-lines of the event, FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva held bilateral talks with the Hungarian Minister, during which they reviewed the results of the International Year of Family Farming. Director General da Silva praised the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts to strengthen family farms and spoke with appreciation about the Budapest Global Forum. The head of the FAO pointed out that 2015 would be the International Year of Soils, which is a topic that is closely associated with the family farming model. Among the priorities for the upcoming period, he mentioned healthy nutrition and with relation to that the further promotion of local products, with reference to which the Minister of Agriculture promised that the Ministry would provide the Organisation with professional support.

Concerning the review of current events relating to FAO-Hungarian relations, Sándor Fazekas assured the FAO chief that Hungary would continue to provide all possible assistance towards the operation and expansion of FAP offices previously transferred to Budapest, which represents a mutually advantageous cooperation for both parties. Mr. Fazekas also indicated that as a member of the European Union and the Headquarters of the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Hungary would be happy to assume the role of mediator in the interests of increasing cooperation between the FAO and the EU, as a result of which the region’s food security could be improved through the more cost-effective application of funds.

Sándor Fazekas also held talks with the Ministers of Agriculture of Cyprus and Argentina, the Chairman of the Committee on Global Food Security, and several FAO officials.

(Ministry of Agriculture)