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Drought predicted for this year

Meteorologists are forecasting a record drought in Hungary for this summer, which will have negative effects on agriculture, according to current affairs news site hvg.hu. 

Harvests will be bad this year, resulting in the potential loss of millions of tons of crops, said Tamás Petőházi, president of the National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK). Irrigation would be the only solution for the problem, but today only 80,000 hectares of the total 2.9 million hectares of fields in need of water are sprinkled, he added, noting that the area should be increased more than threefold, which requires government assistance.

Petőházi added that a development project to increase irrigated areas to one million hectares would take 15-20 years; he pinpointed bureaucracy as the key obstacle. Irrigation equipment can water an area 500 meters wide, but Hungarian land property is very fragmented. Sprinkling of such a wide territory typically requires cooperation between at least ten owners and land users.

According to the NAK, the country usually imports wheat from Ukraine even in better years, which is mainly due to cheaper prices. The annual need edges up to 2.9 million tons of wheat. Hungarian agriculture produces an annual 4 million tons of wheat, even if crops are hit by dry weather conditions. Last year’s annual production was around 5 million tons, hvg.hu noted.