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Agribusiness adventure: A young Hungarian farmer's story

Looking at the statistical data about age structure in agriculture, aging of the sector is one of the main challenges in most countries. Accordingly, it is a serious responsibility to inspire youth, demonstrating the values and possibilities of agriculture for the next generation.

Zsoka Fekete (ZsF), a young Hungarian lady, works for Mangalica breeding and handcraft product processing within her own family business. Her story is a really motivating example, which is worth to share with the international community. Enjoy reading her story through an interview with Monika Varga (MV), YPARD Hungary Country Representative.

MV: What did you study, what is your degree?

ZsF: I hold an MSc in Food Science and Technology Engineering, and I’m a professional translator in Food Science, as well as I’m specialized at Equestrian Education.

MV: When and how did you start your own family business? What was your main inspiration?

ZsF: I met Mangalica breeding in 2012 in a quite unplanned way. I bought the first mangalica stock for the utilization of the by-products from my bio-vegetable production, but it turned out that half of the sows were pregnant. So it suddenly became more than a “hobby”. In spite of the difficulties, I fell in love with this profession, and for today it became my life.

MV: Why Mangalica? Would you introduce this species, briefly?

ZsF: When we selected this species, we considered it as the best utilization of the by-products. As an original Hungarian domestic pig, it was cross-bred at the middle of the 19th century. Its characteristic is that the average fat content of carcass is 65-70% and lean meat is 30-35% of the carcass, compared to the 50% of modern breeds. Accordingly, it was stepwise replaced by modern domestic breeds over the last decades. However, its meat is considered among the tastiest pork in the world, so mangalica meat consumption is getting to be more popular again, not only because of its great taste but also because of its advantageous nutrition-physiological effects. For today it also became one of the symbols of traditions in Hungary.

MV: There are also final products processing in your business. What are these?

ZsF: Recently, I have more than 20 products. Besides traditional sausages and bacon, I’m also developing innovative products, such as nutmeg seasoned sausage, spice-crusted bacon, various seasoned crackling creams, fat with pumpkin seed, etc.

MV: Where do you sell your products?

ZsF: Mainly in Hungarian markets, but a few years ago I also export them to Germany and to the United Kingdom.

MV: Your work has been recognized by many awards. Which one do you think the most important?

ZsF: Probably, I got the most inspiring awards at the National Mangalica Festival. Also, I was a finalist at “Agri People of the Year (livestock farming)” in 2017, which is one of the most prestigious awards in Hungary. Furthermore, this year I got the Audience Award of Hungarian Days in Düsseldorf. All of these awards motivate me greatly, so I’m able to find new challenges day by day.

MV: What do you think about the greatest challenge in your daily work?

ZsF: No doubt, the biggest challenge is to stay at the top in every activity, belonging to my business: to coordinate everything myself and to participate in every workflow personally, at the same time. But the tighter is the pace, the bigger is the challenge, in a positive sense.

MV: What are the beauties of your work, that compensate for the difficulties?

ZsF: The fact that I can provide good quality products for my consumers, make me happy. Because the greatest thing is the positive feedback from the customers: receiving a kind e-mail or phone call always gives me the necessary impetus. What one likes to do, does not consider it as a “work”, at all, especially if you know that you can give something positive to others by your work. Furthermore, every day is different, not similar to another one.

MV: Aging in agriculture is a problem everywhere. What do you think, how youth can be motivated?

ZsF: Good question. That’s the point why I used to present frequently at schools. Because prosperity and success do not necessarily depend on a good job in a foreign country or in a foreign life. But if you find your „dream job” here at home, then you find also challenge, amusement and money, as well.

MV: What is your main message for the young generation?

ZsF: My message is clear: Dare to launch your own business! Dare to be brave and to live! Dare to be positive. Because if you do not take a risk, then you will never find your dreams.

MV: What is your main message for the leaders of the agricultural sector?

ZsF: In my opinion, the most important things to start with education. Accordingly, it would be necessary to teach not only theoretical knowledge but also logical thinking, ability to work independently, moreover also playing in a team, brainstorming, etc. at the earliest ages. Also, to provide motivation by positive examples for youth, even by success stories of people, who set a goal and reached it. There are many successful young entrepreneurs in Hungary, they should get more space also in schools for demonstrating their stories.

Photo credit: Zsóka Fekete