Resist land grabbing: help save Kishantos

Kishantos; Hungary’s outstanding organic farm and education centre.
23 October 2013
Article

Kishantos has been serving sustainability and democracy in Hungary for 21 years. It is a Folk High School Centre with a 452-hectare organic demonstration farm. Now the future survival of Kishantos is threatened by land grabbing. We can save Kishantos with your help.

Kishantos Rural Development Centre in Hungary is an NGO based civil institution that was formed by a grassroots initiative by local people. The centre has two main parts: the Folk High School Centre and a 452 ha organic demonstration farm. Its main mission is to spread the idea of ecological sustainability and democracy which it has been doing for over 20 years.

Over this period, Kishantos has developed links with Danish and other European partners. Together with the Danish Vellings Folk High School, international exchange programmes have been organised, with more than 200 Hungarian young people taking part in 3 and 5-month courses in the Vestjyllands Hojskole in Denmark since 1994.

The future of Kishantos is however under threat. The lease contract of the 452 hectares of state owned land is valid until 31st October 2013. But last October, the Hungarian Land Fund (representing the State as the owner) announced an open application process to rent the land of the organic demonstration farm. According to the decision of the Hungarian Land Fund, the Kishantos Nonprofit Company is going to lose all the land of the organic demonstration farm as of 1st November 2013.

The new persons and companies which won the tender for leasing the land have no experience at all in organic farming. Some of them do not have experience in farming at all! This means that Kishantos will almost certainly lose its qualification as a BIO SUISSE organic farming area. The Folk High School Centre will also likely disappear as it has been financed by income from the organic farm. In this way Kishantos will become the victim of a government assisted land grab.

Kishantos is among the very few projects Europe where sustainable agriculture, ecological farming, education and democracy have been functioning together in perfect harmony. We should not let it disappear!

How to help

You can hep by sending a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (orbanviktor@orbanviktor.hu) and Minister for Rural Development Sándor Fazekas (miniszter@vm.gov.hu) with a copy to savekishantos@gmail.com.

Here is a suggestion for the text:

Dear Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Dear Minister Sándor Fazekas,

I am (We are) deeply concerned about the fate of the Kishantos organic farm and Folk High School Centre. Kishantos Rural Development Centre has been a symbol of environmental, economic and social sustainability and democracy.

However, as a result of the decision of the Hungarian Land Fund (NFA), the Kishantos Rural Development Centre would lose all the land of its organic demonstration farm (452 hectares) as of 1st November 2013. This would mean an end to the internationally well-known and highly respected farm and education centre.

The establishment and the operation of Kishantos Rural Development Centre has been helped by German taxpayers’ money as well as German and Danish experts, institutions and communities in many ways. The decision to terminate the Centre will lend serious support to those voices which declare that providing Western European funding to Hungary is a waste of money, because this money is misused and the investments made possible by such money are insecure. I (we) believe that it would be a big mistake to lend support to such voices.

For these reasons we ask you to annul the above mentioned decision of the NFA and guarantee that Kishantos Rural Development Centre will continue its outstanding work during the coming years.

Sincerely yours,

* * *

Videos about Kishantos

Save Kishantos!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_hhODBAO4E

Save Kishantos: the high-ranking ecological model farm  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6D7pU6En2U

Twitter: https://twitter.com/savekishantos


By Robert Fidrich (fidusz@zpok.hu)