FAO Liaison Office in Brussels

In Austria, FAO Director-General meets the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management and visits innovative agrifood sites


 On 29 and 30 October, the FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, visited Austria, where he had a bilateral meeting with Norbert Totschnig, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management of Austria, and visited two farms, a cooperative and a national park.

The Director-General congratulated the Minister on his recent appointment and affirmed that FAO looked forward to further strengthening the good relations with Austria. In particular, the Director-General conveyed his appreciation for the support provided by Austria for the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre in Vienna and looked forward to furthering substantial support.

The two discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine on food security at both regional and international levels and in this regard, the Minister highlighted the important role played by FAO in providing sound technical analysis and information to Members for mitigating challenges of food insecurity.

The Director-General encouraged Austria, as one of the leading role models for other landlocked countries, to strengthen cooperation with other landlocked countries through FAO. In this regard, the Director-General referred to the Office for Office of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), which he has established since taking office and which provided a platform for collaboration.

The Director-General referred to the successful World Food Forum 2022, which had recently taken place at FAO and invited the Minister to participate in next year’s Forum to share successful Austrian stories on agrifood systems transformation with other land-locked countries.

Qu also commended the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture’s focus on innovation and digital technologies by recognizing their importance for agriculture.

Field visits

The two-day visit included tours of two farms, a cooperative and a national park.

On Saturday, the Director-General and the Austrian Minister visited the Gatterer Family Farm in Obergrafendorf, which has been continuously engaged in agricultural production since 1807 and is still run by members of the founding family. It consists of 10 hectares of arable land, 2.5 hectares of forests and 2.5 hectares of orchards producing cherries, pears and other fruit. The farm also produces hams and other cured meats, bread and various juices and liqueurs, as well as a cider available in the on-site tavern.

The delegation then traveled to Wieselburg to visit the Innovation Farm, which is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management, the European Union as well as several universities, research institutes and agrifood related agencies. The operation includes 20 pilot and demonstration sites around the country where new agricultural technologies, practices and expertise are developed and promoted, including soil zoning, needs-based fertilization techniques, field robotics, and ways to manage livestock in indoor settings.

On Sunday, the FAO delegation visited Gärtnergemüse and Seewinkler Sonnengemüse, two historic Vienna-based non-profit cooperatives, which run a vegetable distribution center and greenhouses and are supplied by 150 family horticulture families from the neighboring territories.

Combined, the cooperative members manage 261 hectares of greenhouse horticulture and protected cropping, 234 hectares of open-field cultivation, and produce more than 60 varieties of fresh vegetables and herbs – including tomatoes, paprika and cucumbers – most of which are sold directly to domestic trading partner and the wholesale market.

The Director-General also visited the National Park Neusiedlersee im Burgenland and Weingut Salzl Winery, an innovative protected area consisting of a mosaic of water and grassland areas offering habitats and resting refuges for more than 300 bird species and other animals. About a third of the park area consists of inland salt lakes, a unique ecosystem that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.