New action plan to help develop Hungarian organic agriculture
The new document, published under the auspices of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, sets out a strategic vision and clear targets for the development of organic agriculture in Hungary by 2027.
One of its primary objectives is to increase the size of areas under organic farming in Hungary, with the aim of having at least 10% of agricultural land under organic cultivation, thus helping to attain the ambitious EU target. The main value of this gap filler action plan is that it comprehensively reviews the development opportunities of organic farming. It envisages the creation of a support system in which organic farmers can enjoy long-term financial stability and professional success while serving the expanding local and EU organic market.
Organic farming combines tradition, scientific research and innovation, and by doing so seeks to protect the environment. While taking into account social and economic aspects, the sector helps to develop forms of agriculture and food production that support a healthy lifestyle, and as such, it has a key role to play in achieving Hungary’s sustainability goals. That is why the ministerial document entitled National Action Plan for the Development of Organic Farming, which defines the development directions of the sector between 2022 and 2027, is such an important milestone.
The implementation of the new National Action Plan will simultaneously serve to improve the health of the Hungarian people, quality of life in rural areas, the preservation of nature, and the competitiveness of Hungarian farmers. “Our competitiveness can be improved not only in terms of quantity, but above all in terms of quality, in line with growing societal expectations regarding sustainability and preserving the interests of future generations” writes Dr István Nagy, Hungarian Minister of Agriculture, in the preface to the document.
The plan reflects the views of industry players
Key actors of the sector also actively contributed to the material adopted by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) played a role in formulating the document, with its ten years of research experience and domestic and international organic farming know-how.
“The advantage of the new action plan is that it provides a comprehensive overview of the development potential of the organic sector, and the steps that must be taken to most effectively make use of the funds provided for expanding the area under organic cultivation” notes Dr Dóra Drexler, director of ÖMKi.
In addition, she points out the following: “For a successful organic transition, farmers need expert advice, accessible market data, value chain development, and sales collaborations. Knowledge transmission is also vital for the practical application of new research results, while the training of competent, experienced professionals who can be involved in the day-to-day work of the farm is also extremely important. Demonstration farms, well-equipped organic educational farms, and effective university education are equally essential.”
With these steps, in addition to the financial motivation of area-based payments, market participants can enjoy long-term success in the production of organic food.
The new action plan also quantifies a number of targets related to the market for organic products: for example, it envisages an increase to 5% in the share of domestic organic food as a proportion of total Hungarian food market turnover, a doubling of the average domestic consumption of organic products per capita, and, for instance, an increase in the share of local organic products in public catering to 20%.
According to these plans, the number of domestic farms processing organic products and the volume of locally produced organic raw materials should double by 2027, the number of young farmers producing organic products should increase to 2000, and the number of farmers growing organic produce in Hungary and participating in integrated processing chains should increase to at least 20%. A new domestic organic label will be created as part of a scheme to further strengthen and revitalize the domestic certification and accreditation system, in order to guarantee the authenticity of local organic products.
Why was it created?
The strength of organic farming lies in its ability to put the principles of sustainability into practice, while at the same time producing high-quality food suitable for a healthy diet. The development of Hungary's organic farming is mainly determined by the legal environment of the European Union, the current agricultural support system and, last but by no means least, growing popular demand for sustainable agriculture and organic food. The Strategic Plan of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, stipulated the preparation of an action plan for organic farming in Hungary for the 2021-2027 budget cycle, and the finalized document fulfils this stipulation.
7 key areas for the development of organic farming
In order to further promote the spread of organic farming in Hungary, the new National Action Plan sets out the tasks for the period from 2022 to 2027, grouped around seven key action areas:
- Coordination of local CAP support instruments for the development of organic farming;
- Increasing domestic supply and demand by further stimulating the production of organic food, developing organic value chains and green public procurement, and formulating information and promotion campaigns;
- Meeting the special mechanization needs of organic farming, thus reducing the difficulties caused by labour shortages, especially in arable and horticultural production and animal husbandry, which require precision equipment;
- Safeguarding and strengthening training and education in organic farming, in both vocational and university settings, as well as in adult education;
- Establishing and expanding the advisory and expert network in organic farming, through the development of professional advisory system, knowledge transmission on organic farming, expert working groups, and an online knowledge base, thus facilitating greater information awareness among farmers;
- Strengthening Hungarian research, development, and innovation (RDI) on organic farming, while at the same time expanding on the success of Hungarian agricultural RDI participation in the EU framework research programme Horizon Europe;
- Expanding the audit and certification system using 21st century technology, strengthening consumer confidence and reducing the administrative burden on farmers.
The full document is available (in Hungarian) here: https://kormany.hu/dokumentumtar/nemzeti-cselekvesi-terv-az-okologiai-gazdalkodas-fejleszteseert