“One sow, one household”

Although it sounds better in Hungarian because it quasi-rhymes: “Egy koca, egy porta.” This brilliant idea comes straight from Viktor Orbán whom lately more and more people call “The Dear Leader.” And the dear leader seems to be the fountainhead of all knowledge. No joke. Practically nothing can be decided without him. If a minister decides on the director of the Budapest Opera House, a decision which should be his, and the prime minister doesn’t like it, he can be overruled and publicly embarrassed. Or, a decision is made about the fate of a number of universities which looks pretty final but then the mayor of the city where a university that didn’t make the cut is located goes straight to the all-mighty prime minister who on his very own reverses the decision. It must a joy to work with Viktor Orbán in a subordinate position.

Lately hardly a day goes by without yet another “revolutionary” Orbán idea. He is currently a vocal proponent of healthful country living. His ideal seems to be a return to the land and to the good old days when the woman of the house baked bread and the peasant households–meaning the better-off kind–were self-sufficient. Then people consumed only food grown in their backyards and not the “garbage” that nowadays comes from abroad. This what we hear day in and day out from the prime minister.

By the way, a widely held misconception in Hungary is that agriculture before the change of regime was “world famous.” Admittedly, within the Soviet bloc Hungarian agriculture did better than its competition in the other socialist countries, mainly due to the reforms of the 1960s. But Hungarian agricultural products were sold mostly to other Warsaw Pact countries, especially to the Soviet Union where practically anything was acceptable due to the constant shortages of edible goods. As someone jokingly said the other day, there are many products that are “countrywide world famous”!

Today the state of Hungarian agricultural production is pretty dire. On small plots, carved out at the time of the change of regime, farmers simply cannot produce agricultural goods profitably and effectively. In other words, they cannot compete in price with products coming from other countries. But even if the structure of the industry were different, agriculture would make up only about 4-5% of the country’s GDP. So Viktor Orbán is wrong when he claims–as he did the other day–that Hungary is still an agricultural country.

For one reason or other the leadership at the Ministry of Agriculture with the blessing of the prime minister is embarking on a new program called “egy koca–egy porta” (one sow, one household). We have known for some time that Viktor Orbán likes village life where he spent his first fourteen years. The Orbán family in those days was poor, and even as a young child he had to work in the fields. There was no running water and hence no bathroom in the house where they lived, and he fondly recalled the day when the Orbáns moved into town to a small apartment with a bathroom. Yet by now it seems all this has been forgotten. He returned to the village of his childhood where he built a house with most likely more than one bathroom. And there the family kills a pig or two every year with the active participation of the man of the house:

Orban kolbasszal

So, the idea of “one sow, one household” obviously appeals to him. He wants more and more pigs. If all goes well, thanks to this project 600-800,000 pigs could be added to the present family of 220,000 Hungarian pigs. Naturally, the government would come to the assistance of those who would like to try to keep a pig or two in their backyards. For some strange reason those in the ministry who were told to work out the details of the prime minister’s pet project think that “keeping a pig will enhance the tidiness of the yard. It will also add to its usefulness because some of the feed could be grown there. Moreover, it would help the physical fitness of those attending the pigs.” Somehow my memories of pig sties are not associated with “tidiness” but with smell, dirt, and constant work for those who were in charge of them.

The Orbán government decided to organize an exhibition of the agricultural and food processing industry (Országos Mezőgazdasági és Élelmiszeripari Kiállítás) which was opened by the prime minister himself. He announced that “after the regulation of the financial world, agriculture must also be regulated.” God save us! According to him the decades of the dictatorship and the last twenty years, the “age of the bankers,” caused “terrible damage to the farmers.” I am trying to figure out the meaning of this sentence but I don’t get too far. “The financial world lost touch with reality. However, agricultural production teaches people to respect reality.”

According to Orbán the eurocrisis that periodically flares up causes terrible damage but it is good for something: “it opens our eyes.” People realize that one cannot eat electronic knick-knacks or stocks and bonds and therefore the value of agricultural land has grown. And in this respect Hungary is in an enviable position. It has plenty of good agricultural land whose protection found its way into the new constitution. Here Orbán was referring to the ban on selling agricultural land to foreigners because, after all, “what kind of man would sell his own mother.” Mother Earth (anyaföld), you get it?

This latest brainchild of Viktor Orbán reminds me of an old conversation between József Orosz, then a reporter on a program called Kontra on KlubRádió, and Gábor Náray-Szabó, professor of chemistry at ELTE, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and an ardent supporter of Viktor Orbán. I entitled the piece “Raising chickens in times of trouble.” If you want to have a good laugh, please read the English translation of the conversation. Nothing is new under the sun, especially since this administration has a limited number of often harebrained ideas.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ron
Guest
Professor, thank you for bringing this topic up. I read about it sometime ago, and had serious doubts about this plan. The idea is to have a pig for each household is okay, and I can see how that would work. My grandfather after the war had two pigs, but as he was living in the city with wife and ten children in a small house without a garden. He put them for fattening with a farmer. And twice a year he would get a phone call, he arranged the butcher or slaughterhouse, and thereafter they had enough to feed a family for half a year. To put a pig at a family in their garden will severely increase the risk of mouth and claw pain (mcp). Once a pig is identified as having this disease and area of 5 km2 must be disinfected. Disinfected means killing all pigs, sheep, goats, cows, and will disrupt transport of livestock to slaughterhouses, and has an adverse effect of the export and import of livestock and meat for almost a year. I refer to the outbreak of this disease in the UK and Holland some years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot-and-mouth_disease In Hungary and Romania there… Read more »
Ron
Guest

Professor: If all goes well, thanks to this project 600-800,000 pigs could be added to the present family of 220,000 Hungarian pigs.
Two years ago there where a little bit over 2,000,000 pigs in Hungary. Where did you get this number of 220,000 from. To my knowledge the number of 2,000,000 is not changed.
Btw in 1990 there where 10,000,000 pigs in Hungary.

Paul
Guest

Never mind foot and mouth, what about the flies!
For years my in-laws’ neighbours kept pigs and you couldn’t sit outside in the summer without getting bitten to death (always assuming you could put up with the smell to start with!).
It’s been a real relief these last few years to be able to visit without returning covered in itchy lumps. (And for those never bitten by these flies, a mosquito bite is like nothing in comparison.)
Orbán’s ideas get more barking by the day.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ron, I got the number from Világgazdaság:
http://www.vg.hu/vallalatok/mezogazdasag/ketszer-tobb-disznot-akar-orban-357362, Maybe they left out a couple of zeros.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ron: “My grandfather after the war had two pigs, but as he was living in the city with wife and ten children in a small house without a garden. He put them for fattening with a farmer.”
My grandparents also raised a pig right after the war. Believe it or not they lived downtown Pécs. I doubt that it would be permitted today. Unfortunately, I also remember the pig killings. Awful scream from the poor pig even before the killing and an awful lot of grease everything you touched.

Member

@Ron “Koca” is the female pig. Pig in general is the “sertes”. In city speak the koca is the “permanent” pig. It’s kept to breed meat. 50k koca can raise the number of “sertes” by 1 million according to the never-ending wisdom of the internet …
This sounds like the same garbage that Orban’s experts typing out on their iPads. Genius idea. Now they just have to make sure the price of the feed drops and VAT is lowered in the meat product to make them competitive on the EU market. Simple, isn’t it. Say what ….???
Orban The 5th and his royal family is really into this country living thing. His wife has a page on orbanviktor.hu where she says things like “udvaron van kemencém, abban szoktam sütni a lábasjószágokat” which is (somebody help me) “prepare the ‘lábasjószág’ in an outdoor furnace”. I think ‘lábasjószág’ is livestock that has no wings. Crap. I give up. I grew up in BP.

Ron
Guest

Here is the KSH data on number of pigs.
http://portal.ksh.hu/pls/ksh/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_oma003.html
Without considering the piglets it is around 2,000,000.

Member

Right. In 2011 there were 3 million pigs (sertes) and a bit less then 300k “koca”.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt: “His wife has a page on orbanviktor.hu where she says things like “udvaron van kemencém, abban szoktam sütni a lábasjószágokat” which is (somebody help me) “prepare the ‘lábasjószág’ in an outdoor furnace”. I think ‘lábasjószág’ is livestock that has no wings. Crap. I give up. I grew up in BP.”
Oh, my God! How quaint. One really wonder whether it is because of her parents’ peasant background or something to please the current trends.

Member

Mutt: Oh my goodness, I can’t stop laughing about the “udvaron van kemencém, abban szoktam sütni a lábasjószágokat”. It really reminds me for Ruzsa Sandor or Talpuk Alatt Futyul a Szel, Indula Bakterhaz. Sorry it is not in English but here we go:


Do you remember also Hofi’s Ruzsa Sandor parody?

Jano
Guest

Some1: Azé!:)

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Long ago and far away in a rain sodden land to the North West. Every cottage (Except the ‘Council Houses’) had two pig stys. One was for the ‘Porkers’, the other for the piglets. They were generally built next door to the ‘privies’. There would be a ‘hemper’ (so called coz you had to hempty it) for visitors and a good old ‘crow perch and drop’ for the rest of us. Nearby there was also a large pile of ‘summat’ you did not wish to know about (fifty to sixty years later I still do not). This grew larger by the week and it ‘hummed’. Oh yes we had all the ‘primitive conveniences’. ‘Thomas Crapper’ of Holborn who he? I can see the Mighty One (O.V.) the tail of his night shirt flapping in the freezing wind, skittering through the snow and ice to answer a ‘call of nature’ with his candle guttering in the wind. I can see the family waiting in trepidation for the yell to tell everyone that he had fallen in. The idea of abject horror, which would later appear at the back door, when he finally clawed his way out, would be beyond description. The… Read more »
Rigó Jancsi
Guest

More pigs for Parliament! There is plenty of place on Kossúth tér, so don’t plant a park there, build a pig farm! And it will prevent those bloody unions from demonstrating there!

Ron
Guest

Mutt: @Ron “Koca” is the female pig. Pig in general is the “sertes”. In city speak the koca is the “permanent” pig. It’s kept to breed meat. 50k koca can raise the number of “sertes” by 1 million according to the never-ending wisdom of the internet …
Well this depends on which breed of pigs are held. If it is Mangalica, the average litter is 5-6 piglets per year, which are at slaughter weight after one year.
The Duroc is a high fertile breed having twice a year 10-12 piglets.
The problems in general with these high fertile breeds that they are highly sensitive to various sicknesses.

Ron
Guest

Mutt: This sounds like the same garbage that Orban’s experts typing out on their iPads. Genius idea. Now they just have to make sure the price of the feed drops and VAT is lowered in the meat product to make them competitive on the EU market. Simple, isn’t it. Say what ….???
So you think that these pigs are not for own consumption, but to be sold on. I do not think so. If that it is the case that they are sold on, the requirements of the stables, feed, permissions, regular check by the Vet including antibiotics and other medicines, make it impossible to sell on and to make a profit.
I believe the reason is that VO tries to reduce the demand from the market and therefore, to put pressure on the pig farmers to lower their prices. And as result is less depended on imports from abroad, from for example Romania and Poland the largest pig exporters to Hungary.

Guest

Oh my god!
Reading this I really didn’t know whether to cry or laugh aloud …
Just yesterday we walked with our dog though the village and the vineyards and Iremarked to my wife that the small pieces of land looked to me just like Germany 50 years ago before the “Flurbereinigung” (agricultural land consolidation or reallocation Leo gives to me as translation), of course this should be done here too.
Even here around Héviz we have these smelly pigsty thing which nobody wants – ok, a few chicken are alright. I know of several neighbours who decided this year or last not to raise pigs any more -it’s just too much work and the young people won’t help …
Most of my neighbours are over 60 years (the younger ones prefer the cities …) and they can’t really do this kind of agriculture any more on a larger scale: Chicken, ducks, geese, pigs and a large garden with paprika and other vegetables and even some corn …
So I don’t think much will come out of this iniative – although I like the idea of those politicians searching for the outhouse in the snow …

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt: “Pig in general is the “sertes”.”
How elegant. I usually call it “disznó” and thus “disznóhús.” Pig and pork.

Hoping
Guest

As soon as I hear Hungarian politicians talking about pigs and farming in the same sentence I am immediately reminded of the classic novel Relations by Móricz Zsigmond. A story of a 1920’s corrupt and nepotistic Hungarian town/state in which a pig farm plays a large part in the description of a political atmosphere which sounds horribly familiar to the current state of play.
What on earth is Orban doing talking about pigs? It feels kind of psychotic.

pusztaranger
Guest

This pig is obviously giving a ****:
comment image
(found on Facebook)
“after the regulation of the financial world, agriculture must also be regulated.”
It’s about creating the “self-sufficient nation” as opposed to globalization (google search: “Nemzeti Önellátás a Kárpát-medencében” – both popular with Fidesz and Jobbik.)
Found on fidesz.hu:
“It’s our responsibility and our national interest to have a national economy in place in Hungary that can provide food autarky (önellátás) for the Hungarian people (…)” (“magyar emberek” – mind you, that was Jobbik’s term 2 years ago.)
http://www.fidesz.hu/index.php?Cikk=166934

Guest

I’m starting to think of Orwell’s Animal Farm – wonder why …

Member

Jano; Azé! Hofi: “vörös nőt dögönyözött, ötször”



Ron: “VO tries to reduce the demand from the market and therefore, to put pressure on the pig farmers to lower their prices.” Good point.
Well, students will not have to do dissections in class any longer, but all the kids must attend and be active participants of at least one “Disznotoros” (pig killing and preparation to various food items), and also be able to jump on a walking horse as our early ancestors did, in order to be able to enter university. For extra credits proof of being able to stomp on grapes for at least sixty minutes will be given.

Member

My apologies to the readers who speak only English, but this article has an even better “sausage picture” of Orban the 5th. The title is “Orban keritest epit” – cheeky reference to the expression describing the riches: “the fence is made of sausage”.
The article (sorry, I don’t remember if it was quoted) is very interesting by the way. It is by a PR expert about the “Orban brand”. Too bad it’s not available in English.

Member
eszti
Guest

hm… while i understand the hilarity of the average family and OV keeping pigs in Budapest, I don’t think the ideas that they’re trying to get at are that outlandish… what is wrong with encouraging people to grow-their-own, support local markets and be less dependent on imported stuff? Does every question like this have to be viewed as cynical nationalism? Why not bring environmental arguments in (in my opinion very strong), in favour of local produce and making people realise what a difficult situation the average Hungarian smallholder is in today? My vision of what Hungary could be like (and not limited to Hungary) would be a re-valuation of how important land and agriculture is to the average joe. Since when is everything that is important decided by GDP anyway?! Maybe breaking the age of the banks is the first step towards this! 🙂

Member

eszti: “what is wrong with encouraging people to grow-their-own, support local markets and be less dependent on imported stuff? ” Although I do respect your opinion, and i do understand where you coming from, do you honestly believe that keeping pigs is a reasonable expectation for every household? We are not talking about “grow your own vegetable”. We are talking about raising a pig. Although on the wilder country side is not reasonable to say “grow what you eat”, to break it down to each “porta” household is just plain silly. Are we talking about farmhouses or about villages. What is implied is villages and farms. Why not suggest to “each doorbell, one fish”, and send the people in Budapest to the Danube to fish?
I think growing your on vegetable and herbs would be a good start and by the way you can even do that on a balcony garden, in the city.

GW
Guest

Eszti,
If this was, in fact, intended for own use and limited sales as organic/local or high quality export products, it might make sense, but the intention here is apparently to affect the general market, which means that individual household will be expected to subsidize products intended to flood a market and create lower end-consumer prices to compete with imports. Obviously, this comes at the expense of some of the most economically vulnerable parties in the country, moreover, if these smallholders have an interest in own-use pork production, in all likelihood, they are already doing it, without unnecessary government encouragement.

Pete H.
Guest

Orban is absolutely correct, in one sense, that Hungary is an Agricultural nation. A drive around the countryside would verify that statement. And even where you see forest, much of the time you are looking at hybrid poplar plantations or heavily managed beech forests. Of the estimates I have seen, agricultural land cover is from 62% to 70%, and forest is around 20% to 25%. But, EVA is correct that as a part of GDP it is very small and it would be surprising if it ever toped 10%.
I spent part of the summer interviewing Hungarian conservation biologists and protected lands managers. They are alarmed at the rate at which lowland and riverine forests are being converted to hybrid poplar plantations. Many of these plantations are being set on land that is designated as protected forests. THose protected forests are of course cleared to make room for the plantations.
I would be concerned at any increase in pig production without strict controls on effluents. Pig farms in the southern US have had severe impacts on many aquatic systems. Many of Hungary’s waterways are already quite polluted.

Member

@Eszter: “Since when is everything that is important decided by GDP anyway?! Maybe breaking the age of the banks is the first step towards this! :)”
Maybe … maybe not. We will certanly know 10 years from now when the country will be dirt poor, ham will be a luxury item and your kids will eat your home grown zukkini – for a week. And then we will go: dang, maybe there was no “age of banks”.

eszti
Guest

@GW – I agree with your point
@ Mutt Damon – I am surrounded by people who live like that right now. Depending where you are perhaps, there are people in this country who are dirt poor and *shock horror* don’t eat pork every day as it is. This is in spite of the fact that food has never been so plentiful, just as the the bank bailouts are… Regardless of where we are heading I think that we have been in an era that favoured banks and the corporate sector, no question, and that their thinking and bottom line infiltrates all decision-making.
Homegrown zucchini’s been feeding us all summer :p

Paul
Guest
It’s weird reading this thread as a külföldi. In the Hungary I know, people still do keep pigs and chickens, and grow their own paprika, kukorica, uborka and have gardens full of fruit trees and bushes. And spend weeks in the ‘summer kitchen’ each year smoking and bottling. Just above me in the attic, there is bottled chicken, raised by my in-laws, pickled ubi, grown in their back garden, dried apples from their trees, apricot and peach jam, from their own fruit – and seemingly endless bags of home-made pasta and noodles! True, my in-laws no longer keep pigs (although several in the wider family still do), but they do buy one each year and have it killed and butchered, before bringing it home and smoking and freezing it (even your clothes smell of smoked pork while this is going on!). I hadn’t realised just how ‘Budapesti’ many of the posters on here were. This may go some way to explain why I often seem to see OV and Fidesz differently. Budapest isn’t Hungary. Come out east some time and visit the smaller cities and towns, and especially the villages and isolated ‘hamlets’ (I forget the Hungarian word). Even out… Read more »
wpDiscuz