The Land for Farmers Programme is continuing, within the framework of which a further 24 thousand hectares of state-owned land will now be made available to farmers, The Ministry of Agriculture’s Minister of State for State Lands announced.

Márton Örs Bitay said that roughly half of the 24 thousand hectares was arable land, and the other half was pasture.

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The country’s national parks have already put up their lands for tender and the National Land Fund Management Organisation (NFA) will be publishing its tenders within the next few days. The newly provided state land comprises 1070 plots at an average of around 25 hectares each.

The Minister of State pointed out that in 2010 600 thousand hectares of state land had only 600 leaseholders. By the end of the previous government term this spring, the number of leaseholders had increased tenfold.

More than one third of state-owned farmland, some 230-235 thousand hectares, have been made available to farmers so far, he added, noting that 5-6 thousand hectares of state-owned plantation area are also expected to be made available this year in addition to the newly provided 24 thousand hectares.

The 24 thousand hectares include areas that were previously worked under contract of engagement, but which can now be published within the framework of long-term leasehold agreements, the Minister of State said, noting that there are some areas of state-owned land that cannot be leased for the long term and which will continue to be worked on the basis of annually renewable contracts.

With regard to the 24 thousand hectares, the Ministry would like to maintain the 80-20 percent ratio, meaning that 80 percent of land can be applied for by private individuals and only 20 percent by legal entities. Young farmers, first-time farmers and family farms continue to enjoy an advantage and successful applicants must also be engaged in animal husbandry. The latest tenders are also in line with the provisions of the new act on land trade, which came into force in May.

The Minister of State also spoke about inspections, which began this year, and which are performed after one year of land use. Some 400-500 inspections are in process at the moment, and only 4 contracts have been annulled so far because the leaseholders have not fulfilled their undertaking, Márton Örs Bitay said.