Hungary Newsflash Week 27

Ecologcal farming subsidy, good season for muskmelon and watermelon, climate change-induced wildfires, the struggles of potato farmers and Hungarian research results in mushroom farming and biodiversity enhancement

A woman holding a slice of watermelon
©Foundry Co
Watermelon farmers in Hungary are expecting a good season. This year, watermelons have been grown over 3500 ha of land and the domestic supply might last as long as the middle of September.

Weekly briefing

  • Ecological farming subsidy: The Ministry of Agriculture has announced the launch of a new subsidy program for ecological farming. The subsidization period would start in January 2022 and it involves a three-year commitment period on the part of the beneficiaries. The aim of the subsidy scheme is to incentivize the ecological transition and maintaining ecological farming.
  • Climate change: This summer, the number of wildfires drastically increased in Hungary. Compared to 2020 data, in the past weeks, the number of wildfires in wheat fields rose by 64%, those in stubbles increased by 60%, and the number of haystack fires increased by 32%. Around 210 hectares of agricultural land have been burned down in wildfires and 21 agricultural machines were also destroyed.
  • Horticulture, fruits: Muskmelon farmers are now projecting an unexpected good harvest in Hungary. Although the growing season was off to a rocky start due to the spring frosts, the rest of the season was favorable and there were no significant pest or plant disease outbreaks either. This year, farmers have been growing muskmelons over around 480 hectares of land, which is roughly 10% higher than last year.
  • Horticulture, fruits: Watermelon farmers are also expecting a good season. This year, watermelons have been grown over around 3500 hectares of land in Hungary, and the expected aggregate harvest yield is between 150-160 thousand tons. The average Hungarian per capita watermelon consumption is around 12 kg and farmers expect that they will likely be able to supply the populace even as long as until the middle of September.

Biodiversity experiment might boost agricultural performance

Researchers of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network have established wildflower meadows with natural, endemic vegetation in the area of Dunavecse in Bács-Kiskun County in Southern Hungary.

The purpose of the experiment is to counterbalance the biodiversity loss caused by agricultural activities and to prove that the restoration of the environment and an increase in biological  diversity will have a positive effect on nature, agriculture and food security.

The experiment involved the planting of 0.5 ha of land with seed mixes from 32 endemic plant species. The expected results include a boost in rapeseed yields due to the increased activity of pollinators and also an increased presence of predators due to the more diverse habitat, which will decrease the amount of pests in the fields.

Green tomatoes
©Markus Spiske
A new subsidy will soon be launched in Hungary to incentivize the transitioning to ecological farming.

Hungarian researchers make mushroom growing safer

In a research project funded by Hungary’s National Research and Innovation Bureau, scientists at the Hungarian Agriculture and Life Sciences University (MATE) conducted a research project focused on identifying and measuring the potential food safety risks of mycotoxins in fungicultural production.

The project operated with a research grant of €2.83 million and MATE’s scientists worked alongside professionals from the company Bio-Fungi Kft. and the Microbiology Institute of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE).

The researchers reported that they have successfully identified bacterial strains that are capable of degrading mycotoxins and and have created an industrial monitoring system which analyses and identifies mycotoxin levels, making industrial mushroom farming safer.

Hungarian potato production at historic low

Hungarian potato production has been going through hard times in the past years. While once the area used in potato production in Hungary was 60 thousand hectares, today this number is 8 thousand. The reason for this decline is the cessation of the domestic processing industry, competition on the Common Market and climate change.

This year, the extreme cold periods in the spring made for a bad opening for the growing season. Preliminary estimates project a harvest yield of 52 million tons, which is generally in line with the trends of the past years but it is still lower than the 2020 harvest by 5.4%.

The spring weather has not been kind to other plant sectors either. Here is our overview of the fruit sectors - And last week we reported on the disasterous damages done to peach orchards.

Protecting the bees

Hungary supports European Food Safety Authority's review of special protection objectives for bees, said Minister for Agriculture István Nagy at the latest meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxemburg. The minister also highlighted that the role of pollinators is paramount. Minister Nagy also voiced the opinion that it is now time to determine at the EU level the maximum decline in honey bee populations due to the use of pesticides, and that Hungary wants to achieve a reduction to a 7%, but the Commission’s 10% target figure is acceptable.

The Minister also highlighted that the protection of bees is a common goal and that safe plant protection products should be available to farmers.