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Hungary is a relatively small, landlocked country located in Central Europe. Its capital is Budapest, and the population is almost 10 million. Hungary, considered a developed country, joined the European Union in 2004. Its official language is Magyar. The country is famous for its thermal cave system including lakes, which is the largest in the world. Hungary hosts the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. The country is administratively divided into 19 counties, which are sub-divided into 174 sub-regions. There are 169 towns and 2,904 villages. Hungary has seven geographical regions. In terms of climate, summers are hot with frequent showers, although without high humidity, while winters are mild with snow falls. 

The agricultural sector of Hungary, which once used to contribute up to 17 per cent to the national GDP, has been declining since the late 1980s and especially during the 1990s; both the production and employment levels have gone down. Over the years, the number of small individual farms (706,877 in 2005, with average production income of about € 2,000) has been decreasing while the number of agricultural corporations has been increasing (233,703 in 2005), with average production income of about € 220,000 per corporation. Main food crops grown are maize, wheat, barley, pulses, potatoes, chili, garlic, fruits, and aromatic and medicinal plants. Cash crops include sunflower, sugar beet, fiber plants and tobacco. Although the livestock sector has also been declining, yet less than agriculture. The animals raised include cattle, sheep, horses, pigs and poultry. Hungary exports farm machinery and equipment, food preserves, dairy products and seeds of maize and sunflower. Hungarian agricultural companies are exploring huge new markets such as in Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Some of the causes for the decline of the agricultural sector have been identified as the loss of guaranteed Soviet Union market, reduced purchasing power of people, competition with imported commodities, removal of government subsidies, high prices of inputs, collapse of many agricultural enterprises, and the selling or renting out of land to investors by new owners out of frustration caused by a lack of farming knowledge. The use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) is prohibited in Hungary. Recently (2013), the Hungarian government literally burned 1,000 acres of corn crop which had used genetically modified seed allegedly supplied by the multinational seed company Monsanto.

Agricultural development in Hungary cannot be conceived without appropriate, parallel rural development. According to 2003 data, 87 per cent of the country qualified as rural, that included 96 per cent of the settlements providing home for 47 per cent of the population.

Roots of agricultural extension in Hungary can be traced back to the middle ages. Hungary was one of the first European countries to organize professional training in agriculture including extension. Some of agricultural institutes and teaching institutions established a long time ago, which now have different names, such as: Georgikon Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (1797); Agricultural Higher Educational Private Institution of Magyarovar (1818); Fruit Research Institute of Cegled (1852); School of Practical Gardening at Buda (1853); Debrecen National School of Agriculture (1868); Agricultural Vocational Training School in Hodmezovasarhely (1896); Royal Experimental Station for Fish Physiology and Waste Purification (1906); Esterhazy Plant Breeding Plantation (1910); Kalocsai Paprika and Chemical Research Station (1917); Szeged Paprika and Chemical Research Station (1927); and Research Station of the Horticultural Research Institute (1949).

According to a 1930 document of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the following agricultural extension initiatives were being taken in Hungary during the late 1920s, aimed at improving the condition of the villagers:

a) Lectures, competitions, and inspection of farms: Since the end of the First World War, the government was paying a great deal of attention to improving the rural life. Instruction being given inside schools and through courses, as well as outside the schools, i.e. extension. School instructors and winter schools of agriculture, and teacher agronomists, all were obliged to provide agricultural training to young people and adults in their respective districts during their time off from the schools. There were 12 schools of agriculture, one in each principal region of the country, and eight (8) winter schools of agriculture. The instructors held lectures for the villagers, organized competitions and meetings, inspected farms and conducted other similar activities. During 1928, as many as 2,060 lectures, were delivered in 252 villages.

b) Use of radio: The radio had become very effective medium of agricultural extension outside of schools. The Minister of Agriculture himself was the president of the Committee of Instruction by the Radio, who also gave biweekly lectures on seasonal farm work, prepared by the best Hungarian experts and broadcast through the central studio at Budapest. The government was in the process of preparing a project of law providing for the installation of receiving radio sets in every village.

c) Public agricultural libraries: The use of public agricultural libraries were encouraged by the Ministry of Agriculture, which distributed books on agriculture and a few masterpieces of Hungarian literature as gift to the deserving farmers’ clubs. These libraries were established during earlier years in almost all villages, and more were being established by the Ministry.