The Hungarian-Croatian project ECOTOP 2 to develop ecotourism in the cross-border region held its workshop on 19 April focusing on local products as a unique value.
The representatives of the project partners participating in the workshop – Somogy Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Zala County and Kaposvár University from Hungary and Krizevci College of Agriculture and Tourist Authority of the Town of Koprivnica from Croatia– could first hear Zsuzsanna Hegyi, managing director of Érték és Közösség Kft. (Value and Community Ltd.).
Regarding the situation of the Hungarian food industry she said that the Hungarian productivity makes up only a third of the EU average. The situation in consumption is similar: it is only the Bulgarian citizens who spend less on food than Hungarians. The situation could be rectified by improving horizontal co-operations and creating production-sales communities. There is some good news, though: Hungarian consumers are getting more and more conscious and the origin of the product plays an increasingly important role. This is why it is important to produce distinguishable products. Trademarks have a significant role to play in this respect such as geographic markings and origin marking. Examples of this include the salami from Szeged, the sausage from Csaba and the paprika from Kalocsa.
László Bogdán, the mayor of Cserdi was the next presenter. He has been in his position since 2006 in the Roma village in Baranya with a population of 450. In the year when he was first elected, the number of registered crimes was 600, whereas today it is 4-5 per year. Everyone works in the village and it does not mean state public employment. From the previous 100 state public workers there are only 20. The rest of the workers are involved in real producing activities: last year they grew 160 000 kg vegetables: potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes and paprika.
– What really counts is not your race or origin but what innovative solutions you can come up with in order to achieve results, said László Bogdán. He pointed out that gastronomy is the area where all prejudices and disadvantaged could be overcome. This is why it is important to advertise and popularise Roma dishes. The mayor hopes that in 2019 supermarkets will start selling Lasipe, (goodness) the Roma brand food products: Roma lecsó (traditional dish from tomatoes and paprika), and romburger, the Roma hamburger. Their plans are supported with marketing tools; soon there will be billboards advertising these food products. Long term they are planning to set up a cannery and a logistics centre.
Mihály Zichy had a huge career change in 2008 when he gave up his printing career and started producing wagyu beef introducing it first to Hungary.
– He said that during the economic recession and the gastro-revolution he believed that there was a demand for such a super premium product even if the economy was really struggling. He was successful because there was a huge interest in his product everywhere from the supermarkets of the CBA chain to the luxury restaurants in Budapest. Wagyu is a cattle breed from the crossbreeding of Japanese labour cattle and European beef type cattle. Wagyu cattle grow extremely slowly and during the fattening period of 30-36 months they consume a large amount of fodder so the meat price is very high. The farmer said that although there is some truth in the legend about massaging the animals and feeding them with beer, this is not part of modern fattening methodology.
It is the meat of the wagyu cattle which contains the most umami, i.e. the so-called savoury “fifth taste” that is also present in parmesan cheese. The fat content of the meat is 65% and it melts from the meat at low temperatures. Consequently, its mild texture is similar to the meat of fish and this is also characteristic of the wagyu steak.
Cycling tourism is becoming more and more popular in Hungary. Participants in the workshop could learn about an ecotourism innovation related to cycling tourism. Ferenc Vörös system manager talked about the project implemented within the Ős-Dráva Programme. For three years they have been operating a bike-rental service system in which they have stations in five settlements (Harkány, Sellye, Vajszló, Kémes and Vejti) where the electric bikes can be picked up at dropped off and where they can be charged as well. It is possible to ride 70-180 kilometres with one charging. At the stations there are intelligent touch screen maps giving information on the next stations, resting places, cycle tracks, accommodation, and catering facilities. There are 70 bikes in the system, which are comfortable even on elevating roads and appropriate for cyclists weighing up to 120 kilograms.
After the presentation participants had the opportunity to test the electric bikes.