The event indicated in the title took place on November 22, 2021, organized by the Tolna County Development Agency Nonprofit Ltd., as part of the FRiDGE Interreg Europe project.
Balázs Kiss, Managing Director, Tolna County Development Agency Nonprofit Ltd., as the project manager of the FRiDGE Interreg Europe project, greeted the participants. He emphasized that the FRiDGE project builds the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry on three main pillars:
- increase of production capacities, acquisition of new assets, possible sources of financing,
- market access for products in domestic and international markets, market acquisition,
- increase productivity in competition with non-EU markets.
The objective of the project is to facilitate market access for food SMEs, increase productivity and motivate investments into the sector. The steps of implementation are the following: the analysis of the situation of SMEs, to explore the possibilities of accessing the market, then to increase productivity, to implement new investments. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Managing Authority of the Economic Development and Innovation Operational Programme.
The national analyzes carried out during the implementation of the project dedicate great importance to the use of food brands by local organizations. The project seeks to promote the long-term viability of trademarks, making them more accessible to the general public. It also facilitates coordination between organizations and access to food-specific support. Last but not least, it creates an opportunity for the traceability of the products and the operation of the monitoring system.
The next speaker of the event was Attila Nagy, Head of Department, representing the Development Policy Department of the Ministry of Agriculture. In his presentation, he emphasized the appreciation of the importance of the domestic food industry in view of the pandemic situation. He also presented the results of the implementation of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in 2021.
In 2021, two new calls were issued to increase the efficiency of the sector.
- Development of food processing plants
Acquisition of equipment, technological developments.
Non-farmers can also apply.
Budget: HUF 50 billion, maximum grant HUF 100 million / project.
- Complex development of food processing plants
It provides an opportunity for complex, even strategically important, developments related to food processing and winemaking.
The beneficiaries are SMEs based in Hungary and operating in the European Economic Area.
Budget: HUF 200 billion, grants allocated are between HUF 100 million and HUF 5 billion.
The number of applications received for the two calls for proposals is 678 for the development of food processing plants, while 510 for the complex development of food processing plants.
Attila Nagy then described in detail the perspectives of rural development from 2023, the essential elements of which are the following:
- the rules for rural development measures will become more flexible,
- support for young farmers and rural start-ups will increase to a maximum of EUR 100 000,
- 5% of EAFRD resources should be allocated to the LEADER Program and at least 35% to environmental objectives,
- in addition to the EU funds, 80% of the national resources will be supplemented, which will be implemented in the framework of national top-up financing in the Rural Development Programme,
- the EAFRD is excluded from the scope of the General Provisions Regulation,
- direct payments (Pillar I) and rural development support (Pillar II) will be combined in a single plan, the so called CAP Strategic Plan.
At the end of his presentation, the Head of Department emphasized the need to submit the Strategic Plan to the European Commission by the end of 2021, so that bilateral negotiations with the European Commission could begin in 2022.
The event continued with a presentation by Zsolt Pálmai, Deputy Director of the South Transdanubian Regional Innovation Agency Nonprofit Ltd. The Agency being the Hungarian partner of the Regions 4Food project that supports the digitization of the agricultural sector in the Hungary, has developed an action plan for the actors of the agri-food sector, especially with a view to catching up with the economies of disadvantaged rural areas.
The action plan consists of three actions, the implementation of which is the task between 1 December 2021 and 31 May 2023:
- Action I – Encourage cooperation between agri-food actors. Within the framework of this, the transfer of domestic and international good practices, the exchange of experiences, the testing of digital technology and the generation of collaborations will take place.
- Action II. – Support the agri-food sector in order to increase the use of digital technologies. Attitudes are also formed here through higher education workshops, webinars, online meetups, and digital technology testing.
- Action III. – Transfer of the MSc program “Digital Agriculture and Agri-Food Innovation” of the University of Seville (Andalusia, Spain) to Southern Transdanubia to test a new approach to higher education. The action is also the so-called Regions 4Food project. It is also an experimental action, which ends with the joint development of the Hungarian curriculum, its testing, and then the integration of the lessons learned into Hungarian agricultural higher education and the influence of the Digital Agricultural Economics Strategy.
The presentation given by the South Transdanubia Regional Innovation Agency served to promote the action plan of the Regions 4Food project and to share its content.
Regions 4Food project is the European Regional Development Fund and the Hungarian State