The hop-growing territory around the village of Kastélyosdombó in Somogy County (SW Hungary) is to increase by 20 hectares thanks to financial support of HUF 100 million from the Ministry of Agriculture, in cooperation with Heineken Hungária Breweries.
Via a joint program with Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA-Hungary), Heineken Hungária will look to support disadvantaged families around Kastélyosdombó (253 km southwest of the capital), the company told the Budapest Business Journal.
According to Minister of Agriculture István Nagy, producers may take out a HUF 6 million non-repayable loan per hectare, which will be used to build up the necessary infrastructure. The aim is to further increase the amount of land given over to hop cultivation.
“It is a question of national strategy to decrease the Hungarian food industry’s dependence on imports and to help agriculture stand on several feet,” Nagy said at an event in Sopron, northwest Hungary, where one of Heinekenʼs two Hungarian sites is located.
The loan opportunities, which will help smaller growers establish themselves in the industry, also aims to help disadvantaged families by creating more jobs in the region. Heineken Hungária’s Managing Director Geert Swaanenburg said a lot of work will be needed to produce quality hops; the brewer will contribute to the process by purchasing the produce grown within the program.
“Heineken Hungary is determined to constantly increase the usage of domestic produce while brewing beer. After Hungarian fruits, Sopron Breweries will also focus on Hungarian hops,” Swaanenburg added. “With this we wish to be as helpful to domestic agriculture as possible.”
The joint program of HIA-Hungary and Heineken Hungária was launched with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture in 2018. Having seen positive results, the government has now chosen to provide financial aid as well.
“Our opinion is that by now the foundations for a competitive hop-growing industry have been laid and we are glad to see that Heineken Hungary also sees an opportunity in this. Because of this, we support the initiative of HIA-Hungary and provide aid of HUF 100 mln to producers next year,” Nagy said.
Last November, the planting of almost 3,000 hop plants effectively saw the industry restarted in Hungary. Although Nagy stressed the economic benefits, the minister outlined that the main importance lies “not in the possible profit, but in making modern agricultural methods known to our home again.”
“This program is a good example of how cooperation across sectors can result in sustainable growth and opportunities for less fortunate families who aim to break out of poverty with honest work. This is especially important in such a backward region,” László Lehel, president and director of HIA-Hungary, said at the event in Sopron.