THE FATE OF HORTICULTURE IN THE EAST CENTRAL EUROPEAN (ECE) TRANSITION COUNTRIES: A CASE STUDY OF HUNGARY

A. Burger
Prior to the transition from a socialist to a capitalist economy, the ECE (East-Central-European) countries produced a large proportion of the fruit, vegetables and wine grapes on large-scale farms. These products were delivered to the wholesale trade, to the processing industry or designated for export. Conversely, smaller farms produced for their own consumption or local markets. Hungary has been a major exporter of horticultural products. The country’s agro-ecological conditions are good for both outdoor and under-cover production. Furthermore, Hungary has plenty of thermal energy. Today, horticultural exports from Hungary are still significant, but the quantity is diminishing. After the transition, the vertical supply chains were broken. The wholesale trade did not buy horticultural products from the many small farms and many processing plants were destroyed. The Soviet Union, which had been the major importer of horticultural products from the ECE countries, collapsed. As a consequence horticultural production decreased. The recent trend has been for farms to turn to more extensive cereal production, encouraged by the EU’s agricultural support system. The domestic horticultural trade has also been damaged by the free import regime and the retail trade has become increasingly dominated by large retail chains. These require a steady flow of goods in large quantities and of a standard quality. Most of the processing industries, which have been reorganized, are in foreign hands. Acting individually, the majority of smallholder farmers are unable to meet the demands of institutional buyers. Farmers must learn to cooperate to comply with these requirements. Such cooperation also receives subsidies from the EU. However in Hungary, the process of organizing cooperatives is proceeding slowly. More support and promotion is required from the national government.
Burger, A. (2012). THE FATE OF HORTICULTURE IN THE EAST CENTRAL EUROPEAN (ECE) TRANSITION COUNTRIES: A CASE STUDY OF HUNGARY. Acta Hortic. 930, 61-68
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2012.930.7
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2012.930.7
Hungary, fruit, vegetables, production, processing, trade, cooperation
English

Acta Horticulturae