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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Call for experiences and effective policy approaches in addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics

Attila Králl
Attila KrállAgri KultiHungary

Dear FSN Forum,

Please find attached the submission of Házikó Farm Ltd -

Best regards,

Attila Králl

Represented by: Mr. Gábor Bertényi, co-founder and CEO

Main responsible entity
Launched in 2014, HÁZIKÓ is the flagship project of Agri Kulti Ltd. It is a social enterprise, operating along clear social and environmental principles on commercial basis. HÁZIKÓ has a clear sustainable rural development agenda that is to enhance and stabilize the market participation of innovative small-scale farms and agricultural enterprises, while also providing city consumers with top quality, healthy and fresh food. HÁZIKÓ provides a fully transparent food supply chain “from farm to fork” and a local/national fair trade system. HÁZIKÓ is represented by Mr. Gábor Bertényi – co-founder and co-owner.

Agri Kulti, the sustainable rural development research workshop behind HÁZIKÓ operates since 2011; HÁZIKÓ itself operates since November 2014. Farmbistro – Café of Házikó, operating along the same social and environmental principles, opened in December 2016.

Funding source
To this day, HÁZIKÓ has been using exclusively private investment, a total of cca. EUR 160.000

Location of manufactory and the first Farmbistro Café is Dembinszky Street, Downtown Budapest, Hungary.

A number of international and independent studies investigating global food supply and food security possibilities of future generations conclude with the statement that a ‘viable food future’ will depend on the number and viability of small-scale, family farms and/or community-based food production schemes. In parallel, qualitative famine is an increasingly common phenomenon in many a city, while a growing number of conscious customers would choose their food from reliable resources. Consequently, market-based reinforcement and support of small-scale farmers offers a unique leverage point for rural areas to provide livelihood for inhabitants. Transparent food supply chains based on strict quality assurance also contribute to reconnect rural areas with cities.

The validity of the HÁZIKÓ project is based on a very simple principle: there is great demand for fresh, healthy food from transparent, reliable sources in a wide circle of the Budapest gastronomy scene, while there is (still) an accessible and appropriate supply of these materials in the surrounding countryside, which does not find its way to the capital city. Missing links are: simultaneous knowledge about market and supply specifics, smooth communication between the urban and rural side, first-rate just-in-time logistics, a supporting platform and continuous field-research. These are the points where HÁZIKÓ can provide constructive and valuable intervention.

Credibility and transparency is guaranteed by a certification system based on social and environmental criteria. Products are free of additives and preservatives; packaging materials are strictly biodegradable.

We consider HÁZIKÓ as a revolutionary sustainable rural development and food-supply model that is scalable and adaptable in other urban-rural contexts. In future plans we intend to nurture similar initiatives in Hungary and abroad in order to promote sustainability, short supply chains and full transparency in the food sector.

Key characteristics of the experience/process
The model shortens the distance between local producers and consumers. By excluding multiple resales, producers can profit more, thus a local fair trade system is realized. Farmers gain stable, predictable market and are able to adjust their production to market demands thus viable small businesses will provide rural employment. With their purchase consumers also pay for the rural development components. Fresh food based on organic, only-farm-grown, and additive-free ingredients reach the customer easy way: our model of integrating farm-products to everyday gastronomy holds considerable potential for adaptation in similar socio-cultural circumstances (i.e. in bigger cities and its rural surroundings).

Merging the experiences gained in business, in NGO activities and the academic field, HÁZIKÓ exceeds in inventing and implementing niche innovations. Personal contacts, networks both at the rural supply-side and the urban markets, former successful projects secure great credibility and spotless reputation for the brand.
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Key actors involved and their role
Urban consumers: easy-going and healthy options for city dwellers to sooth their appetites and to get involved in certain aspects of rural life and take a glimpse at local food-systems. Our clients are universities, cultural institutes, civil organizations and multinational companies, as well as private persons. Providing them with delicious food from clean sources, packed in biodegradable and environmental friendly packaging means a channel to communicate our social, environmental values and a sustainable view of a healthy, conscious lifestyle.

Small-scale farmers: concept securing a predictable income and reducing the risks through joint planning and continuous counselling. Direct trade approach enables fair sharing of economic benefits, thus creating a local fair-trade system. HÁZIKÓ currently works with about 30 contracted small-scale producers and also with the seasonal produce of 15-20 occasional suppliers. The number of farmers is steadily growing, but we strive to keep personal relationship with them based on trust, joint planning and continuous communication.

Key changes observed with regards to food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture and food systems
There is an increasing demand for nutritious, edible food from verifiable resources with which the quality food production cannot keep up. Food security in CEE is relevant both in terms of quantity and quality: while in some of the rural areas food scarcity is not uncommon, in the cities quantitative famine is significant.

Sustainable agriculture and food systems are essential both from social and environmental aspects. However, recent systems are increasingly considered as broken, especially in European context: agriculture consumes almost half of the common budget through CAP, but fails to deliver common goals and goods such as lively, resilient rural communities, maintenance of natural capital and climate adaptation and provision of healthy, nutritious food.

Challenges faced
On the suppliers’ side, shortage of reliable producers able to provide stable quality and quantity is a continuing challenge. Small scale agro-enterprises and family farms are often jammed in a semi-professional status without real intention or chance to move up a level.

On the customers’ side, widening the range of customers would require the sensitization of citizens to social and environmental issues with considerable human resource implications. Continuous efforts to change people’s attitude and call attention to the importance of these issues is a great task. Thus, HÁZIKÓ has to operate as a living lab providing unique opportunity to simultaneously evaluate the trends of customers’ expectations, as well as the performance of small-scale food producers.

Regarding the daily operation of HÁZIKÓ, the main challenge is to find reliable, skilled or trainable human capacities for the workshop in Budapest, who are open to the main goals and guiding principles of the project.

Lessons/Key messages
HÁZIKÓ also operates as a living lab providing unique opportunity to simultaneously evaluate the trends of customers’ expectations, as well as the performance of small-scale food producers. After 2.5 years of operation, we can confirm that Házikó is a viable, scalable and adaptable short supply chain model with considerable rural development potential that also contributes to urban-rural reconnection. Quality assurance and full transparency of food chain form the heart of the model. From the customers’ side, the need of a semi-community-based information and quality assurance system arose. Food Track is planned to comply these requirements.