Taking measures against droughts is a strategic task for the national economy, the minister of agriculture told a local conference, calling for irrigation canals to be renewed nationwide and new large reservoirs to be built.
István Nagy called for efforts to increase the level of ground waters, and said building a dam on the River Tisza in the Csongrád area was unavoidable. The dam would raise water levels in the river and help areas along the river to retain water, he said. “Over one fifth of Hungary’s arable land has simply dried out,” Nagy said referring to the droughts in recent months. He noted the government’s efforts to aid affected farmers, including a moratorium on debt service, and subsidies to help them buy fodder for the animal stock and to pay increased energy bills. He also said changes to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy would make direct subsidies available also to areas “crucial for the environment, climate, or biodiversity” from next year on, which he said could encourage farmers on some 100,000 hectares to preserve forests, pastures, and moorland, thus promoting economical water management. Referring to Hungary’s recently established irrigation communities, the minister said over 85,000 hectares of a total 174,200 hectares of land with an irrigation licence were actually irrigated in 2021. Fully 60% of Hungary’s territory is arable land; 50% of that area is used for growing wheat, corn and barley, and 20% for industrial plants, sunflowers and rapeseeds, Nagy said, adding that both wheat and corn were “among the most vulnerable plants” in terms of climate change. “Under this climate they could only be safely produced through irrigation,” he said.