Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Down on the farm

Rising consumer affluence in Poland and changing eating habits are leading to greater quality expectations among Polish consumers Yet, the ability to upgrade production systems is limited. Nearly 60% of farms are small family operations less than 5 hectares thus producing low income.

According to estimates only some large farms, responsible for a quarter of the arable land are able to make investments to increase production capacity.

The contribution to Poland's Gross Domestic Product by agriculture is around 4.5 per cent with the sector employing around five million people. That in itself is a gross imbalance. 18% of workers in Poland farm for a living and produce less than 5% of the GDP.

Harvest by hand on small family farms

Young Polish farmers (below 40 years) are able to apply for subsidised credit in a bid to encourage new and skilled entrants to farming. Potential Polish farmers have been paid direct payments since European Union accession in 2004. Around 1.4 million farmers are granted 8.6 billion Polish zloty (£2.15 billion).

Potential for growing food in the country is highlighted by recent EU production statistics. Poland is currently the third largest cereal producer in the EU and, along with Germany, the main potato producer. The two countries are also responsible for 80 per cent of the EU's rye production. Poland produces around 15 per cent of carrots and 18 per cent of the EU's total apple crop. With almost 477,000 livestock holdings, Poland produces around 230,000 tonnes of beef and two million tonnes of pig meat annually. EU figures for 2006 suggest Poland contributed 6.7 per cent of the total European milk production compared to 10.5 per cent for the UK.

Farming in Poland needs economies of scale -- bigger is better in this instance, because "small" just can't keep up. The family farms will end up like the U.S.'s big three auto makers... On the ropes.


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