Sweet corn is the most important field-grown vegetable in Hungary. It is produced on an area of 35,000 ha, 60–65% of which is located in Hajdú-Bihar county.
- This R&D&I project was launched in 2021 with the purpose of developing a corn production technology. In the framework of the programme, UD researchers have studied new methods to increase the yield and the nutrient content of corn. During the project, research data are directly used in the innovation process and in practice. The programme aims to develop a production method that ensures high yield and high quality (“Healthy Food”) at the same time – said Péter Pepó, professor of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Environmental Management, head researcher of the project.
Professor Pepó highlighted that in the first year of the programme macro-plot experiments had focused on irrigation. As the area of land that suffer from water shortage has multiplied in recent decades in Hungary, water replenishment is literally vital for land-grown plants. The experimental facility of UD at Látókép offers unique conditions, as researchers can perform experiments on irrigated plots.
- Besides irrigation, species selection, nutrient supply, and the date of sowing also have a significant effect on the quality and quantity of bioactive agents, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, in maize. By increasing the quantity of these essential phytocomponents, we can produce concentrated and healthy food that, for instance, helps us protect our vision – added professor Pepó.
As dietary habits change, more and more people begin to prefer managing their healthy nutrient supply through their diets, instead of by taking supplements.
- In the next phase of the programme, following the setting of method parameters, at the Institute of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy of the Faculty of Medicine we will study how large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in maize affect the development and progression of often diabetes-related ischemia/reperfusion, proliferative and non-proliferative retinopathy, and retina damage related to ageing. So far, we have studied three maize hybrids with different agent contents to find out if lutein or zeaxanthin plays a more important role, or a high concentration of both is required to produce effects. Our research will also include the impact assessment of the carbohydrate content of land-grown plants to find out, among other things, if maize increases the risk of obesity and diabetes, while protecting our vision – explained Rita Kiss, senior lecturer of the Institute of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy.
35 researchers and 57 staff members of the Institute of Botany and of the Institute of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy participate in the research programme. The partners of UD in this 4-year project are major corn-producing companies operating in the region, including Irrifarm Kft., Geo-Terra 96 Kft. and Formula GP Kft.
The research programme is conducted in the framework of the project entitled “Win-win technology in producing maize as a Healthy Food”, nr 2020-1.1.2-PIACI-KFI-2020-00064, and is supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund with a non-refundable grant in the amount of HUF 799,497,014.
Press Centre – ÉE