Hungría: Crisis affecting domestic potato sector
While retail customers may be delighted by the prospect of cheaper potatoes, growers are not happy about the fact that purchasers are buying crops at a lower price than last year, writes the Hungarian Times.
In addition, there is no reason for the drop in prices, as the volume going to the warehouses has been notably reduced due to the heat and the quality is far from optimal.
Hungarian potato producers are not in an easy position. The hot summer and lack of rainfall have taken a negative toll on the production, so many growers will close the season with significant losses in the yield. Gábor Kecskés, president of the Hungarian Potato Association and Product Board, told the Hungarian Times that this year, growers have had to face extreme weather conditions. The harvest is already underway, but the production going to the warehouses is much smaller than last year’s; many growers reported losses of up to fifty percent, according to the president.
"The national average yield could be significantly lower than usual, although there are obviously some producers who have not been investing in energy and irrigation to achieve a better result," he said. The damage caused by drought could only be reduced by means of irrigation, but this was not possible everywhere.
The great warmth affected not only the yields, but also the quality. According to the president, there are a lot more badly-shaped and unformed tubers, and the yield is smaller than usual. In any case, people shouldn’t worry about a possible shortage of potatoes in Hungary; buyers will continue to find the product in stores, and the supply can be complemented with foreign imports.
According to the latest report from the Central Statistical Office, the price paid to potato producers fell by 19 percent in July compared to a year earlier. As for the reason for this price drop, even the product council is still looking for the answer, since neither the domestic nor the foreign supply justifies it. According to Gábor Kecskés, producer policies have likely contributed to the decline in prices, as many are bidding against one another to bargain with purchasers; therefore, according to the president, there is only a long-term future for domestic potato production if producers join together and stand together to defend their interests.
Because of rising costs, weather exposure and low prices, many people have lost their desire to produce in recent years, so today’s acreage has dropped to ten thousand acres. It is a shame that the negative trend will continue in the next few years.
"We hope that the producers will be able to overcome the unusual market situation this year, and will continue to work uninterruptedly next year. At the same time, growers should also realise that in the longer term there is a need for stronger co-operation," concluded Gábor Kecskés.