Hungary Newsflash Week 37

COVID-19 effects on international business, Avian flu, pig sector expectations, agro R&D - The week in Hungarian agriculture

Close-up photo of a researcher analyzing a sample under a microscope.
©Chokniti Khongchum
Various agro research projects by SZIE and NAIK submitted to the National Research, Development and Innovation Office have made through the first round of applications. The projects, which include a variety of research topics from innovative cattle rumen probing to genetic research are worth €2.04 million.

COVID-19 regulations – Info for agro businesses

A new regulation, Governmental Decree 422/2020 (IX. 4.) entered into force on September 5 with the purpose of ensuring continued economic production and business operations in Hungary. For general rules about the entry into Hungary under the current border lockdown procedures, see our guide in last week’s newsflash.

The update for the regulative framework aims to aid businesses and international economic partnerships in the country during the pandemic. Based on this new regulation, foreign workers from the surrounding countries can enter into Hungary as well as people traveling for business. Here are the details:

  • Hungarian citizens can now return to the country without limitation upon returning from business trips
  • Non-Hungarian citizens can now enter the country without limitation for the purpose of conducting business or other economic activities. This needs to be justified by proper documentation, which can be an invitation letter from Hungarian business partners. Invitation letters should generally explain the need for the business trip, its worth in profit fogures, and may refer to relevant business contracts or include other sound reasoning as justification for the trip.
  • For persons to whom the obligatory quarantine procedures apply, and for whom exemption from the quarantine procedure is conditional upon two separate negative PCR tests, the first test result condition can be fulfilled by any test conducted in a Schengen country or the USA or Canada if the test result is documented in English or Hungarian.
  • Foreign or Hungarian citizens living in neighboring countries may enter into Hungary for 24 hours without permit on the condition of not traveling farther than 30 kilometers from the border. This measure was introduced in order to enable the employment of seasonal workers until September 30. The bordering countries that this measure applies to include Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia.

Information on entry procedures can be found on the website of the Hungarian Police.

Annual farmers’ fair launches in Bábolna

On September 10, the thirty-third Bábolna Farmers’ Days fair started. Minister for Agriculture István Nagy, State Secretary Zsolt Feldman, Rector of Szent István University (SZIE) Csaba Gyuricza, President of the National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK) Balázs Győrffy and other high-ranking guests were present at the opening ceremony which was heralded by a mounted brass band and parading hussars. While many other events in the part months had been cancelled, the Bábolna Farmers’ Days festival opened its gates to guests with thorough health guidelines for both exhibitors and visitors put in place.

“We owe thanks to our farmers for their strength and sense of responsibility during the first wave of this pandemic,” said Minister Nagy in his opening speech, “and we will continue to rely on them now that the second wave is arriving.” The Minister praised agro producers’ resilience and called attention to the need to pass down the strong traditions in agriculture to the next generation, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministries of Finance and Justice, with NAK and the Hungarian Farmers' Clubs and Farmers' Cooperatives (MAGOSZ) providing consultation, are working on a new legislative package that would recognize small producers as family production companies, a new business format as well as introducing measures that would make taxation simpler and easier for SME farmers.

Ambassador of the Netherlands to Hungary H. E. René van Hell also attended the event and discussed experience in practices and possibilities of cooperation in the field of precision farming with Deputy State Secretary Anikó Juhász of the Ministry of Agriculture. Precision farming has been a steadily growing trend in Hungary for years, to which a testament will be the thirteenth European Conference on Precision Agriculture, scheduled to be organized by the Hungarian Precision Agriculture Society in Budapest, in July 2021.

Hungary free of Avian Flu

In accordance with the relevant regulations of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), on September 8, Hungary was reclassified as free of Avian influenza. The last observational area was disbanded on July 10, and starting September 14, the measure that required compulsory testing before animal transportation will be discontinued. However, in order to avoid future outbreaks, the repopulation of poultry farms will be subject to strict regulations.

Furthermore, in order to reduce the risk of infection from wild fowls, national veterinary epidemic measures still apply, meaning that the storing of feed, and the feeding and watering of poultry still needs to be conducted in closed spaces.

Procurement of pork meat - Industry calls for solidarity

Following the announcement of an ASP-infected wild boar in Germany, the Hungarian meat industry is now asking retail chains for their partnership and solidarity with the sector. The sentiment was also echoed by Minister for Agriculture Nagy at the Bábolna Farmers’ Days, reports the news site Trademagazin. The emergence of the virus in the largest pig-producing country in the European Union is expected to cause significant market disturbances on the European pork meat market in the short term.

Based on past experience with trade practices typically employed after the occurrence of ASF in a country, it can be expected that several non-EU countries will introduce import restrictions on German pork as they do not recognize the regionalization approach – Hungary was faced with the same trading practice after the occurrence of ASF in the country. Import restriction measures may result in a temporary oversupply and price pressure in Germany, which will also have consequences for other EU markets as well. The Hungarian meat sector is expecting very low price offers from German slaughterhouses to retail chains in Hungary in order to lower the oversupply in the German market.

Ears of corn put on display at the Bábolna Farmers' Days expo in Hungary
©Ministry of Agriculture
This year's Bábolna fair was opened last Thursday - And mask-wearing visitors can see a variety of exhibitions from agricultural machinery to experimental corn varieties.

Fertilizer sales stagnate, price declines

According to the latest market report by the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics, 971 thousand tons of fertilizer have been sold in Hungary in the first six months of 2020. While this volume is similar to last year’s figures (0.6% increase), prices went down by 7.7%, making the sector’s net profit €204.3 million in the first half of the year, a 10.1% decrease from 2019.

Fertilizers bought by Hungarian producers in the first half of the year contained 311 thousand tons of the Big Three nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, a 0.7% decrease from last year, however, while the usage of potassium decreased by 6% and phosphorous by 12.2%, the amount of nitrogen increased by 1.5%.

The ratio of single-component and complex fertilizers was 86:14, and the most sought-after composition was NPK 8-14-14, making up for 15% of all composite fertilizer sales.

Agro university expects €2 million in funding

The recently expanded Szent István University (SZIE) and the National Agricultural Research and Innovation Center (NAIK) reported to have recieved supportive professional opinions in the first round of a call for applications for research funding by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH). The call for applications in question is a research tender for “market-driven projects in research, development and innovation” by NKFIH, the government’s agency in charge of fostering R&D in Hungary. While the target participants of the call were enterprises, institutions of research and higher education could join the program as members of applying consortiums.

The research projects by SZIE and NAIK which now made it to the second round of applications are worth €2.04 million and are parts of consortium projects worth €17.5 million in total. The projects are the following:

  • The development of new biotechnological and feeding solutions for innovative breeding technologies with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of meat and milk production – Submitted by Mezőfalvai Zrt. together with SZIE
  • The development of an increased efficiency FHPP high hydrostatic pressure treatment technology for the conservation of raw products – Submitted by HELIT Kft. together with SZIE
  • The development of a new cattle rumen probe based on LPWAN communication technology – Submitted by AlbaComp Kft. together with NAIK.
  • The development of novel cereal drink products based on special consumer needs, developed through unique biochemical enzyme processes and microbiological fermentation procedures – Submitted by Agri-Corn Kft. Together with SZIE.
  • The utilization of local genetic resources for global challenges – A project submitted by Agricultural Private Shareholding Company of Törökszentmiklós together with NAIK.

Photo credit:
Cover photo: "analysis" by Chokniti Khongchum via Pixabay