LENs Hungary is centred around the town of Bük, Vas County, in the West of the country. The landscape in this region has a long history of intensive agriculture, with farmers facing multiple challenges including moisture retention, waterlogging, soil loss and nutrient management. Nestlé Purina, an important purchaser of crops in this region, forms the sole demand party in the current, first round of LENs trading. They seek to improve the resilience of their supply chain by funding the implementation of regenerative practices on their suppliers’ farms to improve soil quality. The farmers are supported by an expansive LENs supply consortium, coordinated by Preferred by Nature, which consists of a diverse range of agri-businesses and practitioners in Hungary. As well as providing key farmer support, this consortium is working to develop intervention specifications, methods of outcome monitoring, and project evaluation strategies.
Negotiations between Nestlé Purina and the supply aggregator are at an advanced stage. However the war in Ukraine, in combination with this year’s acute water stresses, have made the roll-out of LENs in Hungary complicated in spring 2022, and this year may see a focus on strengthening relationships with farmers and supporting a consolidated programme of measures in the first year, including payments for farmers to establish post-harvest cover crop and legume measures, soil testing and fertility targeting technologies (precision farming), farmer networking, support, and troubleshooting, and trials on resilient cropping. The overarching goal remains working towards a first trade and building resilience.
Looking forward, LENs Hungary will seek to consolidate the supply consortium and bring in additional co-funders. Furthermore, ongoing discussions with the ministry of agriculture and local governments will continue to investigate how LENs can best integrate with EU-based agri-environmental schemes and support societal needs.