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Conservation of fruit varieties long cultivated in the Carpathian Basin and adapted to local circumstances

  • Published on January 21, 2021

Upon the initiative of the parliamentary commissioner for future generations, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, the genetic conservation and scientific institutions, the Pomologist Network of the Carpathian Basin, the National Gene Bank Committee, the chief pastors of the Lutheran, Catholic and Reformed churches signed the framework agreement in 2011. The aim of the agreement is to conserve fruit varieties long cultivated in the Carpathian Basin and adapted to local circumstances.

Since 2011 several organizations expressed their support for the programme and joined the agreement. Cooperating parties plant and cultivate young specimens of landrace fruit trees (apple, pear, quince, medlar, cherry, sour cherry, peach, apricot and plum) or breeding materials from genetic conservation collections (gene banks, national parks, local government and private collections).

The agreement serves the following targets:

  • save disappearing fruit varieties that have been cultivated in the Carpathian Basin since historic times and start spreading these varieties,
  • spread varieties that may provide the genetic foundation for solving local problems caused by climate (and societal) changes and ecological and resource crises,
  • preserve and use the ancient knowledge related to traditional fruit cultivation and processing, and adjust this knowledge to current opportunities,
  • inform young people living in rural areas about the opportunities of adaptive fruit cultivation and biodiversity-supportive farming practices, and contribute to the restoration of biodiversity in their native region,
  • consumers have access to more diverse and healthier fruits,
  • reveal new or forgotten gastronomic opportunities,
  • the initiative may grow into a movement, and
  • traditionally cultivated orchards, as a landscape feature, may again become part of the Pannonian landscape.

In the interest of the above, the cooperating parties and local governments, schools, professional and civil society organisations:

  • map and examine historic or landrace fruit-bearing plants, and create a local and national database,
  • create local variety collections for the purpose of in situ genetic conservation,
  • propagate, cultivate and utilise locally indigenous and re-introduced historical varieties,
  • explore market opportunities, and introduce historical or regional varieties into cultivation.

It is an important task to conserve and spread the varieties of fruit-bearing agricultural woody plants – trees and shrubs – preserved in the Carpathian Basin, increase their populations in a way that allows us to know exactly what varieties can be found, where and in what numbers.

This work is carried out in cooperation with reliable local community institutions, in order to set an example, and also in the interest of transparent recording, thereby securing safety and utilisation of these genetic materials. Such locations are for example plots of historical churches in Hungary (gardens of vicarages, parsonages, clergy-houses), the gardens of schools owned by local governments and congregations, and the direct surroundings of gardens and roads managed by local governments.

This project supports sustainable consumption by promoting the growing and consumption of local varieties.

Since 2013, more than 300 municipalities/organisations from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine have expressed interest in the programme out of which 189 demonstration gardens have been established. In total, 7773 specimens of nearly 150 fruit varieties have been planted in the demonstration gardens.


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