The supply chain for small farmers in Hungary, with particular attention to fruit and vegetable growers

At the time of the 1990s transition in Hungary from a socialist to a capitalist economy a process of land reform took place. The land of large state and collective farms was privatized. The average size of these newly privatized land parcels was not more than about 4 ha; even now, after some concentration, it is 4.6 ha for individuals. It is obvious that farms of such a size are not viable in a modern economy. However, it is fortunate that, on average, land tenure is much more concentrated than land ownership. Thus there are larger individual farms and commercial farms which rent land from those – mainly absent – landowners who own the small plots of agricultural land. Nevertheless, there are still many small farmers. Many of them use their land to grow vegetables and fruits. Most of the individual small farmers operate on a subsistence or semi-subsistence level. But there are some, about 20%, who produce exclusively for the market, and about 20% sell a part of their products. There are small farmers who are well-specialized for open-air or covered vegetable production, mainly on the Great Hungarian Plain. Yet it is not easy for them to sell their produce. Markets are increasingly dominated by hyper-markets, super-markets and discount chains. The chains need steady supplies and standard varieties of fruits and vegetables in large quantities throughout the whole year. Obviously, these requirements can only be fulfilled by those traders who dispose of large quantities of products. That is why these suppliers are mainly large domestic farms, big cooperatives and importers. If small farmers want to fit successfully into the supply chain, considerable cooperation will be needed.

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Poster prepared for presentation at the 2nd Symposium on Horticulture in Europe held in Angers, France July 1-5 2012

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