12. AGRICULTURE

INTRODUCTION

Agriculture, based primarily upon extensive cultivation of cereals and secondarily upon animal husbandry, has traditionally been the main economic activity of Hungary. In the interwar period, half of the population was dependent upon agriculture, which produced, on the average, some 40 per cent of the national income and contributed as much as 70 per cent of the value of total annual exports. Under Communist economic management, which stresses industrial development and maintains a variety of depressant agricultural policies, the importance of agriculture has significantly diminished. The Communist regime is proud that in 1951 the contribution of industry to national income exceeded that of agriculture. This development is primarily due to the regime's emphasis on industrialization at the expense of agriculture, which in the best postwar year, 1951, produced only 95.1 per cent of the 1938 level.

In many respects, Hungary occupies a position midway between the advanced agricultural economies of Western Europe and the agriculture of the Balkans. In the interwar period, the average yield of the most important crops was higher than in the Balkans and the Iberian peninsula, but considerably below that in Hungary's northern and western neighbors, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. The same midway position characterized the density of livestock (and hence the availability of natural fertilizers), the degree of rural overpopulation, the use of machinery, and, in general, the application of advanced agronomy.

The pattern of land use (see Table 1) of Hungary's total area1 demonstrates the unusual dominance of arable farming, which utilizes about 60 per cent of all land, and the small proportions both of permanent meadow and pastures (16-17 per cent) and forest land (around 12 per cent).

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1
Acreage figures given in this report are in hectares, usually calculated from Hungarian statements in terms of cadastral yokes, a measure equal to 0.576 hectares, or 1.42 acres. One hectare equals 2.47 acres.

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