Pigs and perennials top priorities for future Czech farm policy

Photo: Barbora Kmentová

Approving the national agriculture plan and fighting against soil erosion are among the priorities of the Ministry of Agriculture for this year, Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka of the Christian Democratic Party has announced.

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
According to the national Agriculture Plan, drafted by the Agriculture Ministry and experts from the non-governmental and academic sector for the next 15 years, Czech agriculture should be first of all self-sufficient and sustainable.

In the following years, the agriculture ministry wants to motivate mainly fruit and vegetable growers and animal breeders. Minister Jurečka told the daily Hospodářské noviny on Tuesday that he wants them to enlarge and invest more money into their production.

On the other hand, those who are focused on large scale production of one commodity, such as wheat, corn, or rape seed, are unlikely to get generous state subsidies in the future, the minister said.

Under the ministry’s new strategy, which supports production of perennial crops, the area of fruit orchards in the Czech Republic should double by the year 2030. Currently, orchards take up less than 20,000 hectares of land, which is half the total occupied in the year 2000.

Vegetable fields are expected to expand nearly three fold during the next 15 years and potato cultivation should rise by nearly a quarter. The new strategy also envisages more vineyards and hop fields.

Production of pigs, which has halved since 2004, from over three million to some 1.5 million, is expected to increase by a third.

The minister told Hospodářské noviny the Czech Republic spends billions of crowns on importing these commodities, instead of producing its own ones.

According to the most recent data by the Czech Statistical Office, the Czech Republic in 2014 exported foodstuffs and livestock worth more than 130 billion and paid nearly 157 billion crowns to import them from abroad.

According to the minister, it is essential that Czech farmers learn not only to produce crops or stock but also how to sell them. He said that better connections between farmers and the food producers would foster better stability and competitiveness.

The national agriculture plan also introduces a number of measures preventing soil erosion, which is currently threatening about 50 percent of the country’s agricultural land.

Among the measures against soil erosion is the renewal of lakes and water reservoirs, for which the ministry has earmarked some 1.25 billion crowns. The ministry also plans to plant trees on more than 3,000 hectares of land, which is most seriously threatened by flash floods.

The national agriculture plan for the next 15 years should be approved by the end of the first quarter of 2016.