In times when multiple crises hit Hungary at the same time, help can come from the most unexpected places. Since the ’90s, the county has not been in need of imported corn. The war-torn country of Ukraine seems to be the saviour of Hungary in these dire times. It is said that Ukrainian corn has good quality and is cheaper than the domestic alternative.
Although the harvest is still ongoing, according to experts, Hungary will not reach 4 million tons — reports 24.hu. The country’s domestic consumption is around 4-4.5 million tons a year. Now in better years, the yield is actually twice as much. In the past decade, the average harvest was around 6-8 million tons and this was a stable number. The record was in 2014 when the yield was 9.3 million tons. However, even in the worst year, the harvest was still around 4.7 million in 2012.
The fact that Hungary was not able to produce enough corn for its domestic consumption shows how serious the problem is. Even in the worst years, this was not a problem, but the need for imports is unprecedented. This is a great shock because Hungary’s agricultural supplies should be able to feed at least 20 million people, according to estimates. Although food shortages are partly a result of the war in Ukraine, the main culprit is the severe drought that hit Europe this year.
Previous estimates had put the yield around 5 million tons. However, the yield turned out to be different due to the drought. Even in the less affected western regions, the plants did not receive enough water which made the corn cobs small and short. Current estimates put the total volume of the harvest between 2.6 and 3.8 million tons. Now, no matter what the estimates are, everybody agrees that import will be necessary. Transportation from Ukraine is difficult in these times, but still, a large quantity of corn has been bought. The exact amount is not yet disclosed, but 1 million tons have already been imported — says Zsófia Pótsa, the secretary general of the Gabonaszövetség.
Corn is essential not just for eating, but also for many industries. Ethanol production uses about 2-2.5 million tons of corn, 1.8 million is used as forage and for human consumption about 200,000 tons are necessary. Ukrainian corn has good quality and it is cheaper than the Hungarian alternative. Ukrainian corn costs about EUR 307 per ton while Hungarian corn costs EUR 355-378. Fortunately, Ukraine also has reserves so, if necessary, next year they can export an additional 2 million tons of corn.