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Agriculture Minister: Hungarian agriculture, food industry may see revival

Hungary's agriculture and food industry will see a revival if it can find good solutions to the challenges of the 21st century, the agriculture minister told a special session of parliament's agricultural committee on Friday.

Speaking ahead of the opening of the National Agriculture and Food Exhibition and Fair (OMEK) at the Hungexpo Budapest Congress and Exhibition Centre, Istvan Nagy called for cooperation and “joint thinking” on agriculture, saying it was determined largely by factors it could not influence or foresee.

“Europe’s internal market has been upended, and Brussels is failing to protect it while tying production to stringent regulations,” he said.

To protect the interests of Hungarian farmers, the government has banned Ukrainian grain from the country. However, cheap Ukrainian products are still making their way into the EU, undercutting Hungarian exports, he said.

Multinational companies producing honey in Ukraine now have access to EU markets without having to adhere to produce regulations, and so their produce is cheap, he said.

Consumers’ expectations that prices should be kept low while cutting down on pesticides and eliminating mass meat production sites “is hard to fulfil”, he said.

Meanwhile, he said developing seed production was a potential and important breakthrough for Hungary. Developing irrigation infrastructure would also be a key sector in the coming years, and the relevant resources were at hand, he said.

At the same time, water management needs to serve agricultural as well as ecological purposes, he said. That way, “food production will be more secure and the world more liveable,” he said.

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