Photo: Csaba Pelsőczy
The Government plans to double the area of land used for ecological farming in Hungary during the upcoming 2014-2020 European Union financial period, the Ministry's Deputy State Secretary for Parliamentary, Social and International Relations Katalin Tóth said at the 26th Bioculture Science Day on Saturday in Budapest.
During a presentation on the Government's National Action Plan for the development of ecological farming in the MOM Cultural Centre, the Deputy State Secretary said that the plan is to increase the area of land used for ecological farming from the current level of some 130 thousand hectares to some 300 thousand hectares by 2020. The fundamental goal of the Action Plan is to increase the area of land used for organic farming and the number of livestock raised under ecological conditions.
In addition, the objectives of the Action Plan include raising the level of processing of products derived from ecological farming in Hungary, in view of the fact that the current level is too low. Plans also include promoting the consumption of organic products, and increasing consumer awareness of and confidence in these products. The development of training, research & development and professional advisory systems relating to ecological farming activities will also play an important role in the Action Plan.
Katalin Tóth stressed that ecological farming is a labour intensive sector, which is important because the development of the ecological farming will mean the creation of more jobs within the sector. This is an important factor in preserving and increasing the population retention capabilities of rural areas, she added.
Photo: Csaba Pelsőczy
The Deputy State Secretary also mentioned the fact that the Ministry of Rural Development had recently developed several, mutually supportive documents. The promotion of ecological farming is also served, for example, by the Strategy for the Preservation of Biodiversity (Biodiversity Preservation Strategy) for the period 2014-2020, and by keeping Hungary free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as set down in the Constitution.
According to Ms. Tóth, foods produced through ecological farming must be promoted to increase domestic consumption, something which is facilitated by the promotion of local markets. An additional goal of the Action Plan is to increase the level of organic products used in kindergartens, schools and social institutions (public catering) to at least 30 percent.
Imre Hubai Jr., National Vice-President of the National Agro-economics Council (NAK), confirmed the fact that the public body he represents supports the expansion of ecological farming in Hungary with the instruments it has available. This is supported by the fact that the NAK concluded a cooperation agreement with the Hungarian Bioculture Association at this year's National Agriculture and Food Industry Exhibitions (OMÉK).
In reply to a question from Hungarian News Agency MTI, the Vice-President said that the goal of increasing the area of land used for ecological farming to 300 thousand hectares by 2020 was a "realistic and achievable" goal.
Chairman of the Hungarian Bioculture Association Gábor Czeller added that one of the important elements of increasing the area of land is achieving an increase in the level of funding provided in relation to ecological farming.
This may well occur, he said, referring to preliminary information that farmers involved in ecological farming can expect to receive 450-900 euros per hectare - 135-270 thousand forints at current exchange rates - during the 2014-2020 period, providing they fulfil the necessary requirements during the course of their work.
(MTI / Ministry of Rural Development Press Office)