Hungary: Working group to boost domestic onion production

Hungary has a long tradition as an onion producer, yet the sector's competitiveness is currently not strong enough. In order to improve this, a working group has been set up by the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture.

In recent years, the acreage devoted to ​​onion cultivation has gradually declined; last year, onions were grown on just 2 thousand hectares, while the garlic acreage amounted to 915 hectares. These yielded a production of about 65-70 thousand tonnes of onions and 6-8 thousand tonnes of garlic.

Onions are grown only in a few counties, mainly in Békés, Csongrád, Bács-Kiskun and Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, while 85 percent of the garlic production area is located in the county of Csongrád.

Hungary's exports are also not too great right now. On average, 1-2 thousand tonnes are shipped abroad, while only 6-800 tonnes of garlic are exported on an annual basis. These shipments don't go far, but usually go to neighbouring countries, like Romania and Slovakia.

As regards imports, the figures are higher, as between 15 and 18 thousand tonnes of onions arrive from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovakia, which compete against the domestic crops. The garlic imported by Hungary is typically Chinese, with shipments totalling about 1400 tonnes every year.

The task of the newly created working group is to promote the sale of Hungarian goods at domestic chain stores and to ensure that overseas crops are only sold in the off-season. The Hungarian onion season starts in early June, when it is possible to obtain home-grown, overwintering onions, although domestic onions and garlic typically hit the shelves in late August and can be purchased until January.

In addition to this, the group will try helping Hungarian onion growers by other means. It will, among other things, help increase the country's storage capacity, so that the quality of domestic onions can still meet the market needs half a year after the harvest, thus potentially reducing waste and allowing producers to generate more revenue from onions and garlic.


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