2014. március 09., vasárnap, day of Franciska, Fanni napja
Selected passages from the history of the hungarian plant protection administration on the 50th anniversary of establishing the county plant protection stations
The Jubilee Conference
Budapest (Hungary), 5 October 2004
by dr István EKE, head
Department for Plant Protection and Soil Conservation
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Dear Foreign and Hungarian Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 1954, an important event in the history of the Hungarian administration was the establishment of the plant protection stations in all the counties. We can, however, understand the importance of this step in our professional life, if we evaluate it from a historic perspective.
It is, of course, difficult to precisely determine the very first step and date in the professional administration of a country. The first such warning was issued in Hungarian language by the Senate of the Town of Debrecen in 1760 concerning the destruction of caterpillar's nests. That time, these notices were written by hand.
For me, one of the greatest historic relics of the past is the note issued by Bertalan Szemere, the minister of the first responsible Hungarian government at spring of 1848, two months after it was formed, in which he takes measures for the destruction of the locust egg laying sites detected the year before. Let me emphasise that it means that we already had a state organised forecasting system in 1848, because the egg laying sites observed the previous year were controlled. It means, furthermore, that our country - in a fateful war of independence with the Austrians - had time and energy to take care of the phytosanitary safety of the agricultural production. The minister of interior ordered also that "I should be informed, from time to time, both of the spread of this risk and of its end".
Several historians think that the real beginning of the legislation on plant protection and, therefore, the start of the history of plant protection administration was the approval of the Act on Forestry in 1852. Articles 50 and 51 of section 3 of this Act specify the official control of caterpillars. However, the Act was put into force only six years later, on 1 January 1858, by the emperor's open command which was declared from horse back all over the country.
Though Hungary had not got independent institutional system for plant protection at the end of the 19th c., still in the middle of the 1870s, the territory of the country was protected with harmonised quarantine measures from the introduction of Colorado beetle. The minister of agriculture, industry and commerce issued the following official measures on the import of potatoes at each local government: "In order to prevent the eventual introduction of Colorado beetle widely spread in the United States of America by smuggling potatoes, I strictly prohibit, in agreement with the cis-Leitha government (of the non-Austrian territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy), the introduction of potatoes, peels, as well as the packing material used for the packaging of potatoes and other objects in contact with it, such as bags, drums, wooden boxes, etc. to the whole territory of the Hungarian Crown." However, these official measures did not only express the import prohibition (in order to prevent introduction, smuggling), but provided for regular detection survey and reporting on "the whole territory of the Crown".
A new era started both in Europe and in Hungary with the devastation caused by Phylloxera vastatrix in vineyards. The pest was first identified in 1875 near Pancsova in the territory of Hungary. In 1876, the Act 29 definitely specified the measures to be taken for preventing the spread of the pest and the damages caused by it; and it was proclaimed in both Chambers of the Parliament. The Act clearly specifies that both the pest and the host-plants should be destroyed, then it prohibited the growing of grapevines in the areas concerned. It took measures for the restitution of the owner of the plantation and for the necessary financial compensation.
This incident resulted basically in the launching for the establishment of an independent plant protection institution. In l880, the National Committee on Phylloxera, then in 1881, the National Experimental Station for Phylloxera was set up, this latter considered as the first nucleus of the Hungarian plant protection organisation. In 1890, this Station grew into the Station for Entomology with an extended activity to study the biology of all pests and diseases attacking the agricultural, horticultural and forestry plants, to carry out trials and to work out control techniques.
The Act 12 of 1894 on agriculture and field police was a landmark in the history of the Hungarian phytosanitary administration. Emperor and king Franz Joseph I gave royal assent to it on 31 May 1894. Chapter VII of the Act specifies both the control of harmful animals and plants and the protection of beneficial animals and organisms. It furthermore provides for the sanctions against those who infringe the regulations. Let me call your attention to the up-to-date philosophy of this provision. Already 110 years ago it regulated the protection of beneficial animals and organisms in a plant protection legislation. The Act authorises the minister to take measures in his own jurisdiction in case of the outbreak of a pest not included in the provision, but the control of which seemed to be necessary.
After the first world war, it became really necessary to create an independent phytosanitary organisation. Many of our great scientists, namely Hermann Kern, Jenő Urbányi, Béla Grenczer, László Gesztelyi Nagy, József Jablonowszky, Dezső Révy, György Fáber made clear and valuable proposals for the establishment of a phytosanitary organisation. Even at that time, the proposals drafted the necessity of higher education in plant protection and used the expression of "doctor of plant protection" which was emphasised by Jenő Urbányi, Béla Grenczer and Árpád Dégen in the 1920s.
The international plant protection convention, concluded in 1929 and signed by our country, had a great role in the history of the development of the plant protection organisation. Hungary agreed to establish an official plant protection organization which should consist of a plant protection service and a research institute.
In compliance with the Ministerial Decree 49.000/1932 the Hungarian Plant Protection Service was set up which can now be taken for the first organisation of the uniform national plant protection administration system.
The bodies of the Hungarian Plant Protection Service:
1. Plant Protection Council
2. Hungarian Royal Research Institute for Plant Protection
3. Structure of the practical plant protection centre:
a) Office for Plant Protection (including)
b) Plant Protection Practical Service
4. Regional plant protection services
a) Plant Protection District Centres
b) Local commissioners of plant protection
In 1936, the Plant Protection Council, as an opinion-shaping body was created within the official plant health service. The body responsible for experimentation was the Hungarian Royal Plant Health Institute and the administrative body was the Hungarian Royal Plant Health Districts and the local commissioners of plant health
In the beginning of the 1940s, the programme had already been approved for the training of doctors of plant protection in the University of Technology "Palatine József", but the war hindered the start of the first class in the new faculty. The Plant Protection Service created before the war, modern in every respect, greatly helped the development of the agricultural production and improved its efficiency.
The period of the second world war and the post-war years resulted in significant troubles. Because of the not adequate treatments, the abundance of pests and the spread of diseases were great and caused damages of economic importance. The outbreak of new pests was observed (Leptinotarsa decemlineata, Hyphantria cunea) which were not native in Hungary.
From 1946, several ministerial decrees provided for the control of pests, the distribution and authorisation of pesticides and the safeguarding rules. In 1947, regular controls were made of Colorado beetle, fall webworm, corn ground beetle, San José scale and turnip dart. The official treatments were carried out by the central pest control units created that year.
The Governmental Decree 6210/1949 and the Ministerial Decree 10.427/1949 set up the Agricultural Directorates in each county, several aspects of which was disadvantageous for the plant protection organisation. With the exception of three districts, the plant health districts were cancelled and their tasks were taken over by the Agricultural Directorates. The Research Institute for Plant Protection supervised up to that time by the plant protection organisation, was transferred to the department for Experimentation in the Ministry of Agriculture. Nevertheless, more and more sprayers, equipment and modern and efficient pesticides were used. In addition, the professional skill has been greatly improved.