What happened in 2023? Annual review of the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi)
Thanks to its diverse and expanding research activities and its increasing engagement in EU projects the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) further strengthened the process of organic knowledge transfer in Hungary and the transition towards sustainability both at the national and the international level in 2023.
A few outstanding milestones from 2023
We organized the Central and Eastern European Section at BIOFACH (the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Organic Food) in Germany, and published a summary according to the latest global organic statistical publication on the status of organic farming at the global, European and Hungarian level.
BIOFACH (the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Organic Food) has been organized in Germany in the middle of February in 2023. Besides the introduction of organic food production companies and their products an international professional conference also took place, where several sections discussed the strategic issues of the organic sector – e.g. on the current challenges of professional policy, sustainability, science and trade – during the four days of the event. One of the returning highlighted programmes of BIOFACH is the presentation of the actual statistical yearbook on the global status of organic farming. The publication called “The World of Organic Agriculture“ has been developed by FiBL/IFOAM, and provided an insight into the status of organic farming at the global, European and Hungarian level, based on the data from 2021. The most important trends have been collected into a summary. The Central and Eastern European Section – traditionally organized by our institute – included several decision makers, and many visitors were interested in this programme again.
Inspiration, science and innovation – We organized a sectoral conference on the future of organic farming in Kecskemét with the participation of Hungarian and international speakers
It was the fourth time that we organized the Sectoral Conference of Organic Farming, which was hosted by the campus of the John von Neumann University in Kecskemét. The conference aimed at the exchange and discussion of major opportunities, challenges and experience defining the future of organic farming with inspiring outlook on some outstanding international experience. The presentations of the plenary session of the conference have been video recorded.
The organic landrace tomato seedlings bringing aromatic flavours into the home gardens started their popular journey again
It was on Earth Day when we announced the fifth time that our special landrace tomato seedlings can be purchased in the stores of Lidl again. Last year altogether 24,000 certified organic seedlings have been transported to the shelves of the store chain, this way promoting the role of landraces, widening the choice of Hungarian flavours and strengthening diverse gastronomy.
We launched an organic plant protection series and a participatory research for hobby gardeners, which was open for everybody
With our newly launched series of films and articles – called “Start small, and GROW BIG!” – we tried to provide pieces of advice on plant protection for hobby gardeners. It was Márk McMenemy who talked about organic plant protection practices in the videos, and the experts of ÖMKi showed how it is advised to start gardening without chemicals. We also launched a community research with voluntary participation, called “Spider-Net” (Pók-Háló), on mapping the biodiversity of Hungarian home gardens through the observation of spider species. This way participants can actively help to expand the knowledge base on how natural our everyday living space is. The first results of the research have been published at the end of the year.
Build a sustainable future – support organic!
On the EU Organic Day in September we celebrated and drew the attention of customers to the advantages of organic production and consumption by sharing information on organic farming. The celebration of organic farming continued by self-organized programmes held for the wider public at the Researchers’ Night.
Special cereals and healthy daily bread were in the focus on World Bread Day
We have been conducting studies since 2012 in order to provide cereals to the Hungarian farmers, which are well adapted to their area, yield well, and can be produced by them in organic quality. It was a major milestone in the research work when we launched a nationwide organic winter wheat variety testing network in November 2020. The results of the first three research years have been published in October, on World Bread Day.
Increasing international engagement and representation of Hungarian interests
Thanks to the international programmes, the engagement of ÖMKi continuously increased in the major strategic projects of the European Union in 2023. By representing Hungary, we contribute to the successful implementation of the Soil Deal for Europe, to the preparation of the European Agroecological Partnership, and we also represent the Hungarian agroecological research topics at the regional level within the BIOEAST initiative. Some of our activities – such as the on-farm research networks – which have been started in small 10 years ago became important parts of EU level strategies by now. Due to our engagement in European Union projects we have an insight into and we also have a say in how the major directions of agricultural research and development will be formed, and we can also represent the interests of Hungary. Through our engagement we can provide an opportunity to the Hungarian farmers, researchers and professional policy stakeholders to directly connect to the EU level processes by their experience and work.