Hungary Newsflash Week 37

A terrible new insect pest, dangerous invasive ticks carrying diseases, bilateral ties with Russia, updates from the grape harvest, and some good news for mushroom farmers - The week in Hungarian agriculture

A woman with a crate in a vineyard, around harvest time.
Beeld: ©Árpád Czapp
With the arrival of the fall season, grape harvesting has started. Growers are not happy with bulk prices offered by large wine producing companies - And the authorities are contemplating new regulative measures to protect them.

A new pest can cause terrible devastation to orchards

The insect species Drosophilia suzukii, commonly known as spotted wing drosophilia, is a new insect species that first popped up in Hungary in 2012. This invasive insect is native to Southeast Asia, and is especially dangerous to summer fruits, including berries, cherries, peaches and other fruit crops.

Drosophilia is now spreading in Europe and North America due to global trade and the interconnected nature of our world. In Hungary, it is especially dangerous to raspberries and strawberries, while apples and pears are the least vulnerable fruit crops.

The main destructive power of the spotted wing drosophilia lies in the insect’s capacity to not only attack rotting, damaged fruits but also healthy, growing ones. In the growing season, the window for an pesticide intervention and the harvest is very narrow while due to food safety and public health reasons, the waiting time after an intervention has to be observed.

Stakeholders and researchers report that the insect can, and does, unleash utter devastation on fruit crops. Fortunately, infestations in Hungary have so far been sporadic. Although this species cannot tolerate dry periods very much, in more humid weather it can carve out a niche for itself to then go on and destroy as much as 80-100% of the fruit crops in an area.

Invasive tick species identified by citizen science observation program

The institute Centre for Ecological Research has recently launched a program called Kullancsfigyelő (Tick Observer) which relies on citizen science data to monitor and identify various tick species.

After the program kicked off, lots of citizen reports, emails, photos and actual specimens came from dedicated citizens and three months after its launch, the observation program positively identified the presence of Hyalomma ticks in Vas county, Western Hungary. The singular specimen was identified by a Vas resident on their dog.

Hyaloma ticks are endemic in more southerly latitudes (MENA and Africa generally) as well as Central Asia, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. It is however an invasive species in Hungary, and Central Europe generally.

They can bite livestock as well as humans and spread serious pathogens. The Hyalomma is especially known for the transmission of the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF). The researchers are warning citizens, especially dog owners and the owners of horse and cattle livestock, to check for tick bites more thoroughly than usual, and are asking that upon finding Hyalomma suspect ticks, citizens contact them at

Citizen science is a methodology where amateur scientists, members of communities, citizens, contribute data, observations, materials, documentation, qualitative evidence, etc. to professional scientific research. Citizen science can be a very important asset in many areas from astronomy through public health to agriculture.

Escargot farm going bankrupt two years after opening

The news portal HVG reported this week that an escargot farm is Kisvárda, Hungary, went insolvent merely two years after its launch, the owner, Bourgogne Gastronomie Kft.  being put under bankruptcy proceedings.

The company took out a mortgage in February, a €2.5 million loan from Eximbank with a lien on the plant’s equipment, and previously, MKB bank loaned the company €2 million with a lien on the 2019 and 2020 profits of the facility.

According to the news portal’s information, the company is completely insolvent, the employees are waiting on months of back pay.

The escargot farm, which was launched in 2019, cost €18.6 million to build. The government covered 40% of the production costs.

Hungarian-Russian agro trade cooperation

At the International Business Forum in Budapest, an event titled “Hungary-Russia, basic trends and export opportunities” was organized. State Secretary for International Affairs Dávid Bencsik of the Ministry of Agriculture attended the event and commented that its goal was to “foster the exchange of high added-value food industry products and technical expertise.”

According to the Ministry, Russian-Hungarian agro relations focus on agricultural and food industry business projects in technology-intensive fields. The Deputy State Secretary also added that the areas that might be included in potential long-term cooperation between the two countries include precision agriculture, agro digitalization and e-commerce.

Vineyard in the Villány region, South-Western Hungary
Beeld: ©László Kékkői
The Villány region is home to the Cassiopeia Merlot, Hungary's newest gold medal-winner red wine. The region has excellent opportunities and potential - Many of the wines that come from here are primarily sold abroad.

New viticulture regulation and support measures

An inspection campaign initiated last year by the Wine Communities Council (the main domestic viticulture alliance) and the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH) has reportedly led to increased compliance with quality regulations around the grape harvest in Hungary, reported agro media outlets.

In order to strengthen Hungarian wine production on the domestic market, a new state-funded wine marketing campaign will be launched soon. Domestic demand for grapes has already increased as wholesale wine imports have declined due to the situation of viticulture production on the common market.  

However, stakeholders are not happy with the position of domestic growers, and the authorities voiced their concern over the particularly low bulk purchasing price offered by large wine companies to growers for raw grapes – A move that the authorities consider to be an unfair business practice. The ministry is now planning to introduce new legislative and regulative measures to “protect growers.”

Famous Hungarian Merlot wins gold medal at world competition

One famous wine region in Hungary is Villány, the region around the Villány Mountains in South-Western Hungary. This beautiful verdant green landscape is dominated by forests and neat rows of vine crops – And is best known for its characteristic red wines.

This year, at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2021 world championship, the wine Cassiopeia Merlot 2015 by the Jammertal Winery, has received the prestigious Grand Gold Medal. The creators commented at a press conference in Villány that the gold medal “has put the Villány region on the map of the elite red wine regions of the world.”

Róbert Szűcs, one of the owners of the winery also added that most of their wines, having won numerous awards in the past, are already being mainly sold abroad – And that this new medal should primarily be seen as an acknowledgement of the region, which is capable of “producing practically any kind of wine variety and with enough care and dedication, world-class wines can be made here.”

New fungiculture subsidy

A new grant scheme has been announced for the purpose of supporting development investments at mushroom farms in Hungary. The new grant’s funding, €57.3 million, will come out of the Rural Development program.

According to Minister Nagy, the water footprint of mushrooms is very low compared to other foods – One kilogram of fungal matter only requires 5-8 liters of freshwater to produce.

The new grant can be used to fund the construction of new compost plants, mushroom production facilities, and the expansion or modernization of existing mushroom farms. It will also be applicable for production machinery acquisition.