Inspired by the BOND activities, in 2019, Védegylet initiated the process of forming an Agroecology Network in Hungary, comprising of diverse stakeholders (farmers, researchers, members of civil society organizations, decision-makers, etc.) that have many years of track record in the field of agroecology with the aim of boosting and upscaling agroecological activities and relevant research in Hungary.
After hosting the first Hungarian Agroecology Conference in November 2019, Védegylet organized an “Agroecology: Vision to Action” workshop with the support of the FAO team, implementing some tools learned during the Training of Trainers that can also be found in the Learning Guide for trainers – Empowering farmers and their organizations through the creation of social capital. The aim of the workshop was to connect actors from agroecological initiatives in Hungary and form a basis for future cooperation of the stakeholders. During the first part of the day, participants created a common 20-year vision, agreeing that: in a positive future, food systems will be rooted in local communities; functioning independently from external inputs. In the afternoon, the long-term visions were then translated into short term goals and actions. The groups have agreed in their first main goal: to create a network of agroecology in Hungary, advocating for common interests and creating a background for education and awareness raising; while providing a common, agreed context for agroecology in Hungary. At the end of the day, participants agreed to continue working together and Védegylet has ensured to aid this cooperation in the future, but unfortunately due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, the next meeting originally planned for spring 2020 had to be postponed.
From the survey carried out recently among the participants of the last workshop and other related actors, the priorities and hot topics of the network that should be tackled were gathered. This list serves as a basis to address the needs of strengthening the Hungarian Agroecology Network. The most important challenge that prevents the spread of agroecology in Hungary according to the participants was the lack of knowledge – the concept of agroecology is less well-known in the country, but also the lack of best practices and demonstration farms was among the TOP 3 challenges. This is the reason Védegylet has decided to launch in the beginning of September a 10-week-long online communication campaign in Hungarian for the 10 elements of Agroecology made by FAO for the larger public; each week explaining one of the elements and giving two concrete good examples from Hungary. On the other days of the week, related documents, publications, international and national initiatives (also presented in ‘The Barn’) are shared through social media.
The survey shows that there is a very strong willingness of the different actors to cooperate, therefore Védegylet decided to engage with Schola Campesina – who also supported Eco Ruralis during the Youth Forum – to give their support in the design of the workshops aiming at strengthening the network. These workshops will be held during October and many tools gathered in the Learning Guide for Trainers and other outcomes of the BOND project, such as the regional publications or the regulatory framework for example, will be shared with the participants.