25 years of transformation in the Polish agriculture
Competences Center in Puławy prepared a report called “25 Years of Polish Agriculture. Food safety in Europe”. The Report was officially presented on November 26th, 2014 during the “Science, Business, Agriculture” conference at Puławy Science-Technology Park. This year’s conference was co-organized by Grupa Azoty PUŁAWY. The presentation of the Report was followed by a discussion panel whose participants included agricultural manufacturers, Polish scientists, manufacturers of products for farmers, and representatives of banks which support farming.
The initial presentation of the document took place on November 19th at the President’s Office. The Polish President offered his honorary patronage of the event as a part of the celebration of “25 Years of Freedom”. The first presentation was attended by the coordinators from Competences Center in Puławy, the authors of the Report and Dariusz Młotkiewicz, the Vice Chief of Staff at the President’s Office. Mr Młotkiewicz stressed the fact that President Komorowski was confident that it was necessary to take a confident approach to the competitive potential of the Polish agriculture. He remarked: Today is by no means too soon to plan the shape of the national farming sector in 25 years’ time, especially seeing that in the coming 7 years Poland is to receive 80 billion EUR of funding from the Common Agricultural Policy Budget. The changes which have taken place in the past 25 years were presented in the context of the 25th anniversary of the rebirth of democracy in Poland. The purpose of the Report was to compile an agricultural map of Poland which shows the potential of the domestic farming sector.
Joining the EU as a trigger of changes in the Polish countryside
Agriculture is the fourth most valuable sector of the Polish economy. The Report argues that the main factor which drove the positive changes in the sector was joining the European Union by Poland in 2004. Thanks to this development, Polish agricultural entrepreneurs may now compete on European markets. Data for the Report was based on research by SMGP firm, which conducted many surveys, including the one which pinpointed the most important elements influencing the current shape of Polish countryside. The most, or as many as 64% of the participants of the poll, mentioned the EU subsidies as the staple form of support and the means for the improvement of the farmers’ situation. Next, 7% of the respondents spoke about the system of agricultural advisory centers as an indispensable kind of help, also assisting with completing the application forms. 5% of the polled farmers thought that the overall economic transformation in Poland mattered the most.
Export of Polish products is the strength of the Polish economy
We need to mention the fact that 71% of the poll participants believe that Polish agricultural companies and grocery brands give us a strong competitive advantage over their EU counterparts. This is synonymous with the growing importance of the exportation of foodstuffs, which constitutes 13% of the total value of Polish export. The agricultural and food sector is one of the few branches of the national economy which enjoy a positive trade exchange balance. The goods have a truly global reach, with exports to China, which have recently been growing, serving as an example. The value of the Polish agricultural and food export increased from 4.01 billion EUR in 2003 to 19.96 billion EUR in 2013, placing Poland on the 8th position on the list of the main food exporters in the European Union.
Perspectives for the future
Recent events, such as the introduction of a Russian embargo on food products coming from Poland, and the plentiful harvest, which drove prices down, should make the farmers and domestic agricultural manufacturers realize that looking for new markets is indispensable if they want to become secure from geopolitical crises. It is also necessary to diversify the product portfolio in an effective way. It is advisable to target countries with a growing population, such as India and China. Globalization as a process is also stepping up the pace, and requires the modern farmers to maintain a strong competitive position. Agriculture should therefore be regarded as a business activity in need of continuous development. In a broader perspective, it is vital to look for new potential, especially seeing that in the next EU financial framework (from 2020), the access to EU funding will become limited. The farmers ought to consider it a reason to endeavor to become independent and get together in cooperatives and producers’ groups. Using such organizations, they will be able to take better care of their own interest and take advantage of a stronger position in negotiations.
The social perception of the farmer’s profession has improved in the past 25 years. Farmers’ hard work on the farm has gained popular respect and it is becoming more and more appreciated thanks to the farmers’ efforts and the high quality of the yield. The Report shows clearly that the past 25 years have brought growing export of agricultural products and improving standard of farm management. A step towards precision farming, innovative technology and modern farms has also taken place.
Download “25 Years of Polish Agriculture. Food safety in Europe” report here.