Hungary Newsflash Week 26

EU CAP funding figures, new fruit pest, truffles going strong, soaring fruit prices, beekeper support, water research innovation, nature conservation - The week in Hungarian agriculture

Aerial photo of the reed area on the shore of Lake Balaton. A narrow walkway connects to a small pier with a rowing boat resting on it.
©Bence Balla-Schottner
Lake Balaton in the summer. Hungarian national parks now have more than 100 open projects with a total funding of €130.7 million. This year, more than 30 new projects have been launched which include a number of activities from the construction of new facilities and visitor centers to ecosystem restoration.

Weekly briefing

  • EU CAP: According to recent figures published in the online agriculture press, in the next 7-year CAP cycle, Hungary is planning to spend €12.11 billion on agricultural subsidies from EU funds. Out of this budget, €4.338 billion will be spent in 2021 and 2022. From 2021, the government will supplement EU subsidies with 80% co-financing. This €9.295 billion item will come from the national budget.
  • Horticulture, fruits: The multi-year trend of rising fruit prices continues in Hungary in 2021 as well. Currently, the most expensive fruits on the market are raspberries at €12.8-€14.2/kg, while the price of the last of the domestic strawberries is around €4.3-€5.7. Import Polish produce might prolong the strawberry season, the price of which might be lower. The prices of cherries and apricots will also be high this season too: Spring frosts destroyed up to 60% of the cherry harvest and 70-80% of the apricots. Early peaches, harvested in May, were hit hardest by climate change this year, around 80-90% of the harvest was destroyed. Currently, import peach goes at €2.6-€3.7. For more on the situation with peach farming, see our article here.
  • Horticulture, fruits: Hungarian researchers have identified a new apricot pest, apricot aphid (Myzus mumecola), an East Asian insect species. The researchers first heard of a possible new pest species when in the spring of 2020, outbreaks of aphid infestations in apricot orchards were reported by farmers. Apricot aphid may present a serious problem. While in its natural habitat in East Asia the insect is not considered a serious threat, in Europe, it causes issues as an invasive pest species. The first European infestations were identified in Italy.
    The migration of pest species due to trade and climate change is now a global problem.
    A paper on the issue by the Hungarian research team is available here.

Hungarian truffles going strong

At an opening celebration of a memorial day for Hungarian truffle cultivation, Minister for Agriculture István Nagy highlighted that Hungary is “one of the largest truffle exporters on the continent.”

Annually, Hungarian collectors declare 4-6 tons of truffles to the authorities. Hungary has good natural conditions for truffle production. The primary truffle producing areas are in Transdanubia, Western Hungary: The Transdanubian and the Mecsek Mountains. The Minister also highlighted that Hungary is the only European producer of desert truffles (Terfezia terfezoides), which is a truffle variety known for its light color, marble-like texture and sweet taste.

Close-up of ripe raspberries.
©ejaugsburg
The multi-annual trend of rising fruit prices continues in Hungary. Currently, raspberries are the most expensive fruit - They go at €12.8-€14.2/kg.

National Park development projects underway

This year, more than 30 development projects have been launched in Hungary’s national parks, with a total funding of €24.7 million. These developments include new facilities, infrastructure development and ecosystem restoration. In various national parks, three new visitor centers are also under construction.

National Park directorates also participate in operative development programs, cross-border initiatives and national nature conservation programs. Through these programs, Hungarian national park directorates now have more than a hundred open projects, spending in total €130.7 million on nature conservation efforts this year.

Innovation in water analysis

The Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (MATE) has finished a four-year-long project creating a new instrument system for the observation and chemical analysis of natural waters. The instrument was created as a part of Project Aquafluosense, and it is able to measure the level of water pollution, and can be used for in situ monitoring. It is based on the mechanics of immunofluorescence, but it also uses optical and laser spectroscopy. The monitoring stations of the system can be tuned and adapted to the specific ecologic parameters of individual aquatic ecosystems. The university received a research funding of €1.52 million for the project.

Hungary interested in supporting the beekeeping sector

Hungary is in favor of the European Food Safety Authority reviewing the specific protection targets for bees, Agriculture Minister István Nagy told the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg. In his speech, the minister pointed out that the role of pollinating insects is crucial, as they contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, the fight against climate change and the maintenance of agricultural production. “Without bees, there is no life on the planet, and without the beekeeping sector, there is no strong agriculture," he added.

Minister Nagy said it was time to define at the EU level the maximum loss of honey bee colonies due to pesticide use. Hungary would like to achieve a reduction of 7%, while the Commission's 10% target is acceptable. Commenting on the proposal, the minister said that he would support any initiative to ensure maximum protection for bees. At the same time, the minister said it was important to ensure that practical trials are available when pesticides are authorized.

He said that a high level of protection for bees and the availability of safe pesticides to farmers when needed should be guaranteed together.

The minister also recalled that Hungary is paying particular attention to the further development of the apiculture sector, and the Ministry of Agriculture has adapted its incentive scheme accordingly. Beekeepers could apply for a subsidy of €5.7 per hive.

Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture announced a €99.5 million package to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic, of which almost €2.85 million was allocated to beekeepers.

For more on the situation of pollinators in Hungary, see our World Bee Day article.