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Seed-swapping in Szeged (HUN)

Date interview: March 11 2016
Name interviewer: Janka Horváth
Name interviewee: Founder/Initiator/Organiser
Position interviewee: Founder/Initiator/Organiser

Positive side-effects NGOs New Organizing Networking Motivation Interpersonal relations International networks Identity Experimenting Breakthrough

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

This CTP is about the first seed-swapping event in the town of Szeged, Hungary, which was co-organised by the interviewee. It was held in spring 2011 as part of the 5th Let's Liberate Diversity international conference in Szeged. Its main goals were to strengthen international professional relations and to provide a platform to get an insight into each other’s practical work. Furthermore it had a mission to popularise seeds that had been forced out of the market for some reasons. It also aimed at promoting seed exchange, cultivation and stimulating seed saving techniques. "I was asked to arrange a seed exchange programme as a complementary programme element of the conference." It was an interesting opportunity for Western European colleagues to map the Eastern European region in order to attain knowledge about local initiatives. They could also activate their Eastern European colleagues' work by connecting them with international relations. The conference consisted of several workshops and represented different crucial topics in regards of the legal and professional aspects of landrace preservation. The seed-swapping event was located in the market of Szeged and was attended by locals and also people from outside of the town. According to the interviewee the organisers tried to find a venue that formed an essential part of the life of the local community. The frequently visited and popular location implied that every visitors entering the market could face with the non-ordinary and unique activities. 


While the interviewee was working in the Institute for Agrobotany together with her husband as lab managers, they had the idea that the Institute's work should be supplemented with civil initiatives, with onfarm solutions, with the popularization of the usage of these seeds. A wide variety of seeds were stored without being used because of the lack of human capacity and both of them considered this process was ineffective. "After leaving my workplace I thought that a civil network as a decentralised solution could be developed in order to broaden the horizon for seed utilisation." Setting up their own database and seed centre was another idea, but they realised their lack of human capacity. Therefore they began to attend seed exchanges and also brought some sort of seeds there. The main lesson learnt from those events was that people did not know and apply seed saving techniques anymore. That gave them an impetus to organise seed saving courses by themselves.

Related events

The countrywide emerge of numerous seed exchanges is one of the most important related event to the first seed-swap in Szeged. "It also helped people to boost their personal and professional networks and to build up fruitful relations with each other." It was also useful as it showed not only the theoretical importance of this topic but could also demonstrate its complex practical relevance. It also raised awareness about food quality, local organic food and culinary heritage that could reach the public attention for the first time. The interviewee mentioned another related event from 2011, but she was unsure about its direct connection with the seed-swapping in Szeged. Together with her husband they wanted to develop and launch a website that could serve as a platform to connect all people involved in agrobiodiversity. She came up with this idea at the meeting of the establishment of Magház.


The interviewee was responsible for the organization of the seed-swapping event. The organizers asked her to gather information about the participating farmers, gardeners and their seeds during the event. Eventually they realized that this administrative commitment impeded the implementation of the real goals of the event. 


The open day on agrobiodiversity that was organised in the Parliament, 2009, can be considered as the antecedent of the seed-swapping event in Szeged. After the open day activating and mobilising people involved in seed issues became easier. Furthermore the members of the European Seed Network perceived that as a result of the open day a relevant process started in Hungary. This is why the seed-swapping in Szeged could become the most relevant Let’s Liberate Diversity conference.


One of the main learning outcomes was the need for de-emphasizing the scientific approach towards agrobiodiversity as life certainly has many irregular and less regulated manifestations.

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