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Agriculture minister: Fighting droughts strategic issue

Taking measures against droughts is a strategic task for the national economy, the minister of agriculture told a local conference on Thursday, and called for renewing irrigation canals nationwide, and building new, large reservoirs.

Istvan Nagy called for efforts to raise the level of ground waters, and said building a dam on the River Tisza in the Csongrad area was unavoidable. The facility would raise water levels in the river and help areas along the river to retain water, he said.

“Over one fifth of Hungary’s arable land has simply dried out,” Nagy said referring to the droughts in recent months, and noted the government’s efforts to aid the farmers impacted, including a moratorium on debt service, and subsidies to help them buy fodder for the animal stock and to pay increased energy bills. He also said changes to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy would make direct subsidies available also to areas “crucial for the environment, climate, or biodiversity” from next year on, which he said could encourage farmers on some 100,000 hectares to preserve forests, pastures, and moorland, thus promoting economical water management.

Referring to Hungary’s recently established irrigation communities, the minister said over 85,000 hectares of a total 174,200 hectares of land with an irrigation licence were actually irrigated in 2021.

Fully 60 percent of Hungary’s territory is arable land; 50 percent of that area is used for growing wheat, corn, and barley, and 20 percent for industrial plants, sunflowers and rapeseeds, Nagy said, adding that both wheat and corn were “among the most vulnerable plants” in terms of climate change. “Under this climate they could only be safely produced through irrigation,” he said.

 

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