"Europe’s largest maize processing company is capable of producing higher added value products thanks to continuous development and technological modernisation. This is in harmony with the Government’s and the Ministry’s vision that the Hungarian food sector should produce healthy, safe, natural, GMO-free and competitive products”, said Dr Sándor Fazekas, Hungarian Minster of Agriculture during a groundbreaking foundation stone laying ceremony in Szabadegyháza, Hungary.
Minister Fazekas was speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony for a new biomass steam boiler being built by Hungrana Kft in Szabadegyháza, Hungary. The ceremony was held on March 31 in conjunction with a trade conference on maize.
Hungrana Kft is a Hungarian maize processing and ethanol producer jointly owned by Agrana Stärke GmbH, a subsidiary of Austria-head Agrana Beteiligungs-AG and US-headed Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM).
The existing biomass plant provides two-thirds of the steam and heat requirements at its Szabadegyháza processing plant and uses 60 000 tonnes of hay and up to 15 000 tonnes of sunflower husk pellets annually. The HUF 1.5 billion (≈ EUR 48 million) investment will enable the company to produce 100 percent of its steam and heat requirements.
– In addition to development, protecting the environment is also important to us, and the company uses only Hungarian, GMO-free raw materials, produced bioethanol for motor vehicles and is also expanding the biomass boiler it inaugurated in 2012, Minster Fazekas added.
Food and non-food benefits
Minister Fazekas also highlighted the expansion of the company, in 1990 Hungrana had the capacity to process 400 tonnes of maize per day whereas today it is up at 3 500 tonnes per day positioning it as one of Europe’s largest maize processing companies. According to Zoltán Reng, CEO of Hungrana Kft, the company has invested some EUR 225 million over the past decade in its expansion programme.
In his conference address, Reng, pointed out that a quarter of all Hungarian farmland is devoted to the cultivation of maize, while half of the total maize yield is exported without being processed. He also highlighted that for a long time maize was simply viewed as an animal feed crop notwithstanding that after extracting the starch it produces an excellent protein concentrate that can replace imported soy meal that may contain GMOs.
Dr Csaba Gyuricza, General Director of the National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre (NAIK) Csaba Gyuricza noted that the latest investment by Hungrana focuses attention on the importance and raison d’etre of non-food producing agriculture, which is needed in Hungary.
According to Gyuricza, a total of 4.5 million hectares (ha) of farmland is available for arable crop production in Hungary and is capable of producing food and raw ingredients for some 18-20 million people. With additional developments in the horticulture and animal husbandry sectors along with irrigation, Hungarian agriculture could support 25-30 million people. Alternatives such as energy crops are needed on available land unsuitable for traditional production of food.