Nine years of change in Polish countryside

| Polish Market |

Since the country joined the European Union, the Polish country has transformed beyond recognition. This is visible if one examines the statistics, but also to any observer visiting Polish villages.

The structure of Polish farms in 2013

According to data given by Central Statistical Office (GUS), over 3 million Polish citizens own a plot of land. It is worth mentioning that 2 million Poles pay social insurance in the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS). Also, upon Poland accessing the EU structures, Polish farmers started to receive financial support in the form of subsidies. They are paid out to 1.5 million Poles, but there are only 200.000 farmers who own farms over 15 hectares – the size which, according to economists, makes it possible to sustain a family. Let us look into why there are two million people who pay insurance to KRUS, but only 1.5 million farmers who receive subsidies.

From small farms to agricultural enterprises

Most Polish farms remain small in size. However, the structure of agricultural acreage has changed greatly over the past 9 years. At present the average farm measures about 9.5 ha, while in 2002 the figure stood at 5 ha.

Official statistics say that there are 12.1 million hectares of arable land in Poland. The use of fertilizers is nearly 30% smaller than in the “old EU” countries. The most important thing, however, is profitability of farming as a business activity. An analysis prepared by “PUŁAWY” shows that that farmers’ revenue has increased by 82% since 2005! This is confirmed in data gathered by Eurostat. In the 9 years since Poland joined the EU, the number of large farms has grown considerably. If we just count the absolute numbers, obviously the small farms will be in majority. Small and medium businesses account for 96% of all enterprises in this country, and the situation in the agricultural sector is alike. However, the share of large farms in Polish agricultural structure is on the rise. The 12.7% farms which fall in the 15-100 ha acreage group occupy as much as 37.1% of all arable land in Poland! The total number of farms has fallen by 23% in the last 9 years, whereas the average size of a farm increased by 44%. The number of farms covering at least 50 ha went up by 36%.

Demographics of the Polish countryside

For some years, statistics indicated that the population of the countryside was shrinking. The trend has been reversed over the past few years, and the rural population is growing, despite the stereotype of “the youth leaving the villages for the city”. The country is becoming more and more similar to towns and cities. The life expectancy of rural population has reached 71.4 years for men and exceeded 80 years for women. Education levels are rising markedly and rapidly. Up to recently, agricultural experts have complained about poor education of village inhabitants and about few farmers having professional agricultural training or a degree. This is changing as well, with more and more well-educated young people in the countryside.

Based on a talk by Zenon Pokojski Ph.D. at IFMA 19 Congress in Warsaw – July 26th 2013.