FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Partnerships help build better seed systems in Europe and Central Asia

A study tour brought representatives of Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and North Macedonia to Hungary to learn about improving their seed systems. The visit on 16–20 May constituted part of an FAO project aiming to enhance climate resilience in agriculture.

Specifically, national professionals and policy-makers from the three countries deepened their knowledge in seed material renewal, seed certification, and seed supply production on the example of the Hungarian system. Participants shared information on their legislative frameworks and current structures and how to adapt these to local contexts. Their collaboration and mutual learning will contribute to further develop seed systems and genetic resources in Europe and Central Asia.

“The project foresees the improvement of the production and usage of high-quality and tolerant seeds to strengthen climate-resilient seed systems through better knowledge and seed quality control systems,” explained Tania Santivanez, FAO agricultural officer.

To support this goal, participants of the study tour visited the Centre for Agricultural Research – the largest agricultural research complex in Hungary that carries out basic and applied research and development in the field of agricultural sciences. The Centre plays an active role in developing maize hybrids that are resistant to plant pests and diseases, as well as more tolerant to cold and drought. Both the working modality of the Centre and the effort to deliver drought-tolerant crop varieties proved to be interesting for country representatives.

The programme included a visit to a leading seed producer in the post-Soviet countries, Woodstock Ltd. The company’s goal is to produce safe, high-quality, and climate-resistant crop hybrids in line with international standards. Participants of the study tour appreciated the opportunity to learn about Hungarian seed legislation and laboratories for testing, as well as gain insight into producing climate-tolerant varieties.

On the third day, guests visited Gyermelyi Holding Company, which is Hungary's market-leading pasta manufacturer, largest egg producer, and, as a result, a key player in the milling industry. The company operates a well-functioning example of vertical integration and cover crop production and processing, realizing that high-quality seed is the basis for producing quality wheat and, ultimately, quality products. The company built its own modern seed plant on 8 800 hectares with a closed vertical integration system that has a complete infrastructure required for seed processing, pre-cleaning, drying, and storage capacity. 

 Zsolt Keresztes, director of the crop production sector, introduced the first phase of the food chain. Over the past fifty years, organic development and conscious development have resulted in the emergence of a 3 642-hectare arable crop production unit, primarily to meet the needs of animal husbandry and food production. Gyermelyi's methods were a good example of monitoring the whole food supply chain from farm to plate.

During the successful visit, a cooperation agreement on seed system was signed between the Hungarian and Kyrgyz seed associations. 

9 June 2022, Budapest, Hungary