Hungary Newsflash Week 30

Green Deal and CAP, herb export, livestock genetics R&D and a honey disaster - The last week in Hungarian agriculture

Various herbal plants swinging in the wind on a meadow
©Danel Solabarrieta
Last year, the Hungarian herb export increased in volume. Most of the trade takes place within the EU, Hungary's major target countries being Germany and Austria.

Minister’s view on CAP

Following the July 20 Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, - The first physical ministerial meeting since January, - Hungarian Minister for Agriculture István Nagy expressed his views on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy as well as the EU’s climate goals. The Minister believes that European agriculture can only contribute to the fight against climate change if goals are laid down that can be realistically achieved. On the topic of the Green Deal framework, Minister Nagy commented that he found that especially the targets in the decrease of plant protection substances and the increase of organic agricultural area are too ambitious, and that the execution of these measures on a member state level would lead to decreases in production and competitiveness as well as increases in prices. Minister Nagy also stressed that the CAP negotiations are behind schedule and that therefore, it is paramount that the new system be introduced after a two-year adjustment period, in January 2023. On the topic of CAP funds, in a news program on the public television channel M1, Minister Nagy reported that a better agreement than expected has been reached regarding CAP subsidies for Hungary. The Minister explained that following Brexit, the decrease in agro funding could have been cut by as much as 26%.

Regarding the situation in several agricultural markets, the Minister recalled that Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovenia jointly requested the Commission to put forward a proposal on the regulation of labeling based on country of origin for apicultural products, in order to make the monitoring of lower quality honey imported from third countries easier. Hungary also called for attention for market measures (private storage) in the milk and poultry sectors.

Hungarian herb export increases

According to a recent report by the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics based on last year’s trade figures, the domestic export of herbs increased in 2019. Herb cultivation is important for a number of industries ranging from health through the beauty industry to tourism. Herbs can be categorized as cultivated or wild plants, raw or distilled (drugs).

Some herbs are only acquired as wild crops in Hungary, these include nettle, chamomile, elderberry, horse chestnut, milfoil, linden blossom, rosehip and goldenrod. The dominant grass type herbs produced last year were yarrow, dock and common verbena. In total 1.9 thousand tons of raw and 1.4 thousand tons of distilled herbs were sold last year. The Hungarian herb export totaled €4.6 million in 2019 (a 2% increase), and 72% of it went to EU countries, primarily Germany and Austria.

Sunflowers can be seen in a field.
©Dr. Éva Ütő
Just like with canola and acacia, sunflower honey production suffered this year as well - Experts say stocks will be so low that Hungary will run out of domestically produced honey well before the next season.

New animal genetic laboratory in Kaposvár

A trilateral cooperation between the Hungarian Animal Breeders Association (HABA), the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH), and the University of Kaposvár has been launched for the purpose of founding a new, modern animal genetic laboratory in the city of Kaposvár. The cooperation was conceived following the triangle model of governance, in which the University of Kaposvár represents the academic sphere, HABA the private stakeholders and NÉBIH the government.

As animal breeding is becoming more and more technology-intensive, fewer and fewer breeder companies are able to continue to finance the cutthroat R&D competition in the sector. In Hungary, both the infrastructural background and the human capacity is behind satisfactory levels today, a gap in capabilities which the cooperating parties aim to bridge with the establishment of the new facility. The goal is to have a top-of-the-line, 21st century animal genetics center which would use the latest genome research procedures and technologies to aid domestication and husbandry in the country.

Oh, honey!

After a terrible season for canola honey and the worst acacia honey yield in the past fifty years, the end of the harvest brought disappointing results in sunflower honey production too. The unfortunate weather patterns of the season were responsible for this as well. During the flowering period, sub-25°C temperatures made the weather particularly un-summerlike, which was very unfavorable for nectar production, and then the rainy period later made nectar collection difficult. The flowering period was also shorter this year, instead of two to three weeks, it lasted one. According to Péter Bross, President of the Hungarian Beekeepers Federation, the season was so disastrously bad for Hungarian apiculture that by January 1, 2021, there will be no more domestic honey available on the market. (For information on the struggles of beekeapers in Serbia this summer, check out this week's Serbia Newsflash.)

Photo credit:
Herbs by Danel Solabarrieta, via Flickr.