Hungary Newsflash Week 36

COVID-19 border regulation, meat industry news, agro research and afforestation against climate change - The week in Hungarian agriculture

A woman holds a slice of watermelon.
©Pexels
Despite a decrease in the cultivated area, watermelon had a surprisingly good season this year in Hungary, with a yield of 160 thousand tons.

COVID-19 – Updates on the regulation of entry into Hungary

With the entry into force of the Government Decree 408/2020 (VIII. 30.), the strict regulative measures of entry into Hungary will be reintroduced.

With some exceptions, the private travel of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary is suspended. The regulation does not apply to freight traffic.

Entry into Hungary for foreign individuals is still possible on the basis of individual application to the competent police authorities in the region of the border crossing of entry – Or, in the case of airplane travel, submitted to the Budapest Police Headquarters. The basis of this individual entry can be authority or court procedures, business or work, medical care, studies, private travel in connection with cargo transportation, family events, caretaking of relatives, participation in international sporting, cultural or church events, or other legitimate, sound and understandable reasons not listed.

Entry applications can only be submitted electronically. You can find out more here. (in Dutch language).

Here is a useful link to an information page of the Hungarian Police on border entry and border checkpoints. (English language). Individual applications for the entry of foreign citizens can be filled out and submitted with attached documentation on the page of the Hungarian Police following this link. (English language)

Hop cultivation returns to Hungary

Last Saturday, Heineken Hungary, the Hungarian Interchurch Aid and the Ministry of Agriculture celebrated the first hop harvest in Hungary in a decade. In Kastélyosdombó, Southwestern Hungary, the three parties launched a hop plantation project in 2018 in order to aid the local community, provide employment and reestablish hop cultivation in the country. Heineken Hungary provided financial backing for the project and committed to purchase the produce at market price to be used in Heineken’s iconic Hungarian beer brand, Soproni. You can find out more in our article here.

€2.3 million game meat processing plant opens in Hungary

A brand new game meat processing facility has been established in Napkor, in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County in Northeastern Hungary. The plant was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén who, in his speech, highlighted that the government supports the consumption of game meat since it is one of the “purest, most valuable and most healthy meat, which is also special because of its characteristic taste.”

The Deputy PM added that the government “strongly supports everything that facilitates the increase in the consumption of game meat and fish.” Mr. Semjén also commented that hunting is a Hungarian national tradition and that Hungary is one of the most refined hunting cultures in the world. He continued by stating that hunting, the hunting industry, game meat processing and the relevant businesses in gastronomy and rural tourism are important for the national economy and in the broad sense, hunting generates considerable national income.

Slaughterhouse output figures decreased

According to the latest market analysis of the Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, the number of animals slaughtered at domestic slaughterhouses dropped in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. The slaughter of cattle went down by 7%, pigs by 1% and poultry by 2%. The number of slaughtered geese and ducks dropped drastically due to the devastating effects of this year’s Avian influenza epidemic – By 48% and 30%, respectively.

The number of cattle slaughtered in the period of the analysis was 50.7 thousand, the number of pigs 2.26 million, sheep 17.2 thousand (a 25% decrease), and that of poultry was 104.7 million in total. In the EU, Spain took the first place in pig slaughter in the first six months with 23 million.

The capacity increase of domestic pork processing can still be felt – The volume of the live pig export decreased by 19%, while that of the import increased by 41%.

The country exported 20.9 thousand tons and imported 5.9 thousand tons in live cattle. The export volume decreased by 2%. Most of the export, 53%, went to Austria, Croatia and Kosovo. Meanwhile, most of the import came from Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

Forest with old trees near Debrecen, Hungary.
©Péter Osváth
Woods with old trees near Debrecen in Eastern Hungary. With the new afforestation program, the government promises to create 650 hectares of new forests in the coming years.

Watermelon holding the line

Due to the uncertainties around market conditions and the decrease of available labor in the spring, Hungarian producers planted 20% less farmland with watermelon in 2020. Despite this, the harvest turned out to be good this year, with a total yield of 160 thousand tons, only 10 thousand fewer than last season.

At an opening ceremony for a promotional campaign for domestic watermelon consumption by the Agricultural Marketing Center, Deputy State Secretary Tamás Tarpataki of the Ministry for Agriculture explained that due to the unfavorable weather, the watermelon harvest was delayed – Which also made the fruit available in the market for a longer period. According to the Deputy State Secretary, the average consumer in Hungary eats 8-12 kilograms of watermelon in a season.

Deputy Executive of the Agricultural Marketing Center Gergely Giczi explained at the event that the popular belief that watermelon quality drops after August 10 (St. Lawrence Day) no longer holds true – Today, with the usage of new hybrid varieties, the season for tasty watermelons extends until the end of September.

€455 thousand for agro research at the Szent István University

Through the annual research grant program for fundamental research of the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH), four research projects of the agricultural research and education institution Szent István University (SZIE) have been selected for funding.

László Abrankó was awarded a grant of €129.2 thousand for the research of the biological accessibility of food components in in vitro digestion simulation models. Tamás Müller was awarded €130 thousand for the research of new modes of fish breeding throught the intra-ovarian sperm injection method. László Sipos was awarded €111.3 thousand for the development of a pollen pellet aroma wheel, its nutritional biologic profiling and food security risk analysis. András Táncsics received a grant of €82.6 thousand for the research of the genetic background of the microaerobic degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons.

€5.58 million for afforestation

As a part of the government’s Climate and Nature Protection Action Plan, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Innovation and Technology cooperates in a new €5.582 million afforestation project.

Forests play a key role not only in nature protection but also in the fight against environmental degradation and climate change. In the current afforestation program, new forests are planned to be planted over a total area of 650 hectares, with one million saplings planted annually in various new “Forests of babies” areas in every county, the largest established in Pest county with 300 thousand saplings. (The “Forests of babies” is a new pledge strategy of planting tree saplings after every newly born infant.) Aside from the “Forests of babies” areas, the program also targets state forestry sites, abandoned agricultural lands and military areas, also aiming to halt and turn around the advance of invasive species.

The afforestation program prioritizes tree species endemic to Hungary: The European oak, sessile oak, Turkey oak, grey poplar, European wild pear and others typical to the region.

Photo credit:

Cover image: "Watermelon" by Pexels via Pixabay

"Debrecen" by osvathpeter via Pixabay