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Hungary imports maize from Ukraine as drought hits local crop

BUDAPEST, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Hungary has imported about 1 million tonnes of maize, nearly a quarter of its annual needs in the past 12 months mostly from Ukraine as a severe drought destroyed a large part of its domestic crop, industry representatives said on Monday.

"Under normal circumstances, Hungary is a maize exporter, but this year's crop will be the lowest since the 1970s," said Andras Mahr, deputy secretary general of the National Alliance of Agricultural Producers and Cooperatives (MOSZ).

According to industry estimates, Hungary will harvest 2.8-3.6 million tonnes of maize while the country needs about 4.5 million tonnes every year. Most of that is used by producers of bioethanol, high fructose corn syrup and animal feed.

Last year Hungary harvested 6.5 million tonnes of maize, according to data from the Central Statistics Office.

The farm ministry has not published this year's crop estimate and did not immediately reply to Reuters' questions.

Since last October, Hungary has imported about one million ton of maize, most of which came from Ukraine and some of it was imported from Serbia and Romania. More imports are set to come.

"According to our estimates in the next twelve months Hungary will import at least an additional 1.5 million tons of maize from Ukraine," said Zsofia Potsa, secretary general of the Alliance of Hungarian Grain Processors, Feed Producers and Traders.

In June Hungary offered its territory as a possible route for Ukrainian grain exports as usual routes via the Black Sea were disrupted by Russia's invasion.

Most of the maize that arrived under this scheme was bought by Hungarian traders and industry representatives as local crops were destroyed by the drought, Mahr said.

Maize from Ukraine is also about 10-15% cheaper than Hungarian corn, industry sources said. (Reporting by Anita Komuves; editing by David Evans)

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