Country profile


The land

Total area 93 036 km2.

The country is located in the Carpathian Basin and comprises mostly flat and rolling plains; there are hills and low mountains on the Slovak border.

According to Koeppen's classification the climate is of the temperate type but variable, subject to Mediterranean, Atlantic or Continental influences; it is generally protected from sudden changes by surrounding high mountains (Alps, Carpathian Mountains, and Dinarids). The climate is favourable for the multiplication of seed of many species and several foreign seed companies use Hungary for that purpose.

Arable lands and permanent crops 5,0 million ha, of which 210 000 ha under irrigation, permanent pastures 1.1 million ha, and forests 1.7 million ha. Over most of the country the soil is rich and suitable for agricultural production. The main crops include wheat (734 000 ha), maize (1.1 million ha), vegetables (109 000 ha), fruits (226 800 ha), medicinal and aromatic plants.

Other indicators

Population: 10.1 million (2001)
of which the number working in agriculture, wild life and forestry and fisheries was 174,100 that is 4.5% of the total working population (4 million) in 2008.

GDP per capita: $15 542  (2008)

Agricultural production index (1999-2001=100) was 111 in 2005. 

The value added of agriculture as percentage of GDP was 3.7% in 2008.

Agricultural Prod. imports 2008: 3.8 billion euros
Agricultural Prod. exports 2008: 5.7 billion euros

-source for above 3 data:

The labour force participation of adult female population was 43.7% in 2007.

Hungary is the major exporter of the region for maize, chillies, garlic, some types of food preserves; it is the second largest exporter of the region for fruit, wheat and wheat flour and for some vegetables.


Agricultural sector

National agricultural policy

The country is pursuing the development and implementation of policies aiming at facilitation the transition to a market economy and in particular to being a member of the European Union since 2004. Therefore the harmonisation of legislation, structures and practices with those of the E.U. is a priority. Since 1997 the process has been accelerated and as a result there has been a gradual shift from direct budgetary support to a system of subsidies aiming at particular results. Hungary is a member of OECD and EPPO.

Land tenure

At the end of the 1980 approximately 10 % of the total cultivated land area was under state control; 70% under co-operative and 20% under private control. By 1999 almost all the land that belonged to former co-operatives had been transferred to private ownership under certain conditions. This had the effect of creating a large number of small farmers. Foreign nationals are not entitled to purchase land property; neither are Hungarian co-operatives or any type of company or partnership. Thus foreign seed companies had to rent land for seed production or ask Hungarian farmers to do it for them.

Rural infrastructure

The sector is characterised by lack of credit facilities and therefore by sufficient investment. Land market prices are very low, the legal framework and the condition of the land registration system are not fully developed, therefore land is not used as collateral for loans. Land fragmentation has reduced profitability of marginal plots; for this reason small properties are often let to other farmers who willing to remain on the land and can make a living from several plots.

Availability of agricultural inputs

The cost of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, fuel for machinery and for transportation remains high for the vast majority of farmers.

Role of women

 Women have equal right to ownership, education, extension services and financial incentives. They are present in the field of research, plant breeding, seed certification and control and in the Ministry of Agriculture. No significant problems were reported at the farming level. However as there are efforts from the Government to sustain employment in rural areas it should be verified if women have equal opportunities.

Seed sector

The soil and climate of Hungary are suitable for seed production and multiplication, not only for the country's own use, but for export as well. The production of certified seed covers 170 000 ha and represents 4.4% of the output value of the agricultural sector.

Twenty five percent of this production is exported, contributing to more than 10% of the value of the country's agricultural exports.

Hungary's current Seed Law was promulgated in 1966 and provides for a general framework also for plant breeder's rights through patents. Some modifications are under consideration for further harmonisation with the requirements of the European Union.

The State exercises an important activity, mainly through the National Institute for Agricultural Quality Control (a body autonomous form the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development). It ensures: the registration of plant breeders, the evaluation, registration and release of new varieties; the registration of seed companies; the function of seed certification, inspection and control and the authorisation for circulation and trade, including imports and exports.

The State subsidises the purchase of certified seed, in some cases up to 20 percent of the cost.

Plant breeding

The main plant breeding activity is carried out by specialised centres of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and by Universities. They are still largely supported by state/public funds.

Their ability to collect plant breeders' rights (now their equivalent) depends on various factors including the difficulty for farmers to pay high prices for certified seed. For hybrids and vegetables the element for plant breeders' rights is included in the price.

Hungary is a member of UPOV on the basis of the 1978 Act; it is working to make the system compatible with the 1991 Act.

Variety evaluation, release and registration

By the National Institute for Agricultural Quality Control through its Seed Inspection Division. In case of refusal, the appeal is to the Ministry of Agriculture. The Seed Inspection Division carries out also post control programmes.

Seed production

In Hungary the multiplication of certified seed is carried out on approximately 170 000 ha and involves harvesting of some 360 000 tons of seed. About 25% of this quantity are exported, mostly to the markets of the E.U. As mentioned above, foreign seed companies use Hungary for seed production, particularly for maize, vegetables, sunflower, rapes, mustard seed, alfalfa, grasses and peas.

Seed quality control

Exercised by the Seed Inspection Division of Central Agricultural Office following standard rules for testing and field inspection. The laboratory in Budapest is affiliated to ISTA. There are also decentralised centres in various regions of the country. In 1999 the Seed Inspection Division inspected for seed production: 43 572 ha of winter wheat, 25 912 ha of maize, 1 649 ha of potato, 3 782 of sunflower, 6 271 ha of leguminous (protein) plants and 9 546 ha of lawn and fodder grasses.

Seed processing, supply and distribution

Main breeders of the public sector have created seed companies for the processing, supply and marketing of seed. According to the Seed Inspection Division and to a representative of the Seed Council (see below), the processing and storage is generally according to required standards. There are seldom inadequacies.

Breeders and seed companies representing 95% of certified seed trade in the country, is member of the Seed Council, an entity enjoying consultative status with the Ministry of Agriculture. The Council's activity is entirely supported by the contributions of its 800 members.

Hungary participates in four OECD schemes for varietal seed certification (herbage and oil seed, cereals, beet, maize and sorghum) and in the scheme for fruit and vegetables.

The export-import seed trade is liberalised according to the requirements of the GATT/WTO agreement of 1995,including those of a limited waiver till 2002.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Seed Companies carry out this activity mostly through demonstrations and farm days, in co-operation with the local Chambers of Agriculture.

Application of plant biothechnologies

In some research centres of the Ministry of Agriculture (at Gödölö) or of the Academy of Sciences (at Montovasar) on a restricted experimental basis. Authorisation is up to field trials in fully protected areas.

Plant genetic resources

Hungary is rich in indigenous plant genetic resources. There are several landraces as well as typical varieties of green and red peppers, tomato, maize etc. The natural flora is a source for wild fruits, medicinal plants, forage grasses and legumes, and some crop wild relatives (Aegilops, Lactuca, Daucus, Secale, Vitis, Prunus, Pyrus etc.).

Several varieties of local types of fruits and grapes are still grown in so-called "restricted garden areas". The Institute for Agrobotany in Tapioszele developed a backyard multiplication system for the regeneration of Hungarian landscape and local types near their places of origin. Conservation ex-situ is managed on a long-term basis.

Crop genetic resources activities are co-ordinated by the Institute for Agrobotany, which provides also the Secretariat support to the Crop Gene Bank Council.

Hungary is a member of CGRFA, has adhered to the International Undertaking on PGR, and to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It belongs to the ECP sub-regional network

Germplasm collections

In 1995 Hungary had 75 170 Genebank accessions. The main collections were in the Institute of Agrobotany (199 species and 49651 accessions), The Agricultural Research Institute, Martonvasar (32 species and 4778 accessions) and the Enterprise for Extension and Research in Fruit Growing and Ornamentals in Budapest (37 species and 4339 accessions). There are also several collections at agricultural universities throughout the country.