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International Meeting at Arche Noah

Date interview: February 1 2016
Name interviewer: Janka Horváth
Name interviewee: Founder of Magház
Position interviewee: Founder of Magház

Platforms International networks Social-ecological relations Networking Connecting Expertise Identity Values Motivation Things coming together

This is a CTP of initiative: Magház ‐ Seed House (Hungary)

The International Meeting with Arche Noah in Austria, 2012, was co-organised by Csilla Kiss. After attending this meeting, some people, who were already involved in and dedicated to activities related to agrobiodiversity, decided to initiate something very similar in Hungary, too. Eventually their commitment and efforts resulted in the establishment of Magház (Seed House). This CTP happened at the time when the interviewee were already engaged with seed saving and seed-swapping events in addition to the lively discourse about agrobiodiversity that had also started in Nagyszékely, Hungary. The relatively small-scale International Meeting with Arche Noah in Austria in 2012 consisted of five Hungarian, three French, three Romanian participants and also their Austrian colleagues. The main topics were the presentation of the organisational and management background and the historical overview of Arche Noah. "We were introduced and then attended Arche Noah's garden. Also we had the opportunity to get an insight into the function of the seed bank, moreover we took part in a practical demonstration about the preservation of different types of seeds." The participants could share their own experiences about methods of seed distribution, concerns on legislation, seed selection, national and EU policies related to agrobiodiversity and future challenges. Attending this international event resulted in a decision about setting up a very similar structure and initiation in Hungary as well.


Csilla Kiss invited those private people who were actively involved in maintaining biodiversity and agrobiodiversity such as László Kiss, Ágnes Gyovai from Tápiószele, Eszter Illyés from ÖMKI (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture) and the interviewee. According to the interviewee there has been a close cooperation between Arche Noah and Magház since the latter one was established. "I also organised study field trips to Arche Noah for interested Hungarian NGOs." They even support each other along their lobby activities related to the legislation of the European Union on agrobiodiversity. 

Related events

In autumn 2012 they visited many small-scale organisations in France and took part in another International Meeting there, in that time representing Magház. Beside the representatives of most of the European countries, participants arrived from some African and South-American countries and also from India. The workshops covered diverse topics such as species preservation, fruit gardening, grains and herbs. Local innovative initiatives, possible activities related to agrobiodiversity and its legal background in different countries were also presented. The participants also had the opportunity for attending field trips. After establishing Magház, the founders had a lot of questions and concerns, therefore they continued to take part in other conferences and meetings on agrobiodiversity as well. "Those events gave us a huge impetus and we could gain precious experiences and knowledge." All of the related events were mainly relevant because of their practical dimensions.


According to the interviewee there were not any contestations about this CTP. They mutually discussed all the relevant experiences and shared their opinions with each other.


Csilla Kiss - who was a former employee at Védegylet and initiator of Hungarian seed issues - had previously the feeling that attending this event could be a critical turning point. She invested huge amount of energy and effort to give an impetus to the establishment of Magház. She also tried to involve all of the people in the international knowledge exchange who had the interest, commitment and background in agrobiodiversity. The Meeting’s atmosphere was highly enthusiastic and "the participants were really open-minded and friendly."


After the International Meeting she tried to distribute its concept, values and lessons learnt together with the participants. "This meeting gave us the last incentive to set up Magház."

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