Polish agriculture – the potential which cannot go to waste
No other EU country may boast such agricultural potential as Poland. In spite of this, we remain unable to leverage the advantages connected with our geographical location. Low production level remains one of the key problems.
The fourth in Europe
11 million hectares of arable land makes our country the fourth largest holder of farmland among EU countries. Nearly 7% of the economic activity in Poland is connected with the agricultural sector. Despite such potential, Polish farming is characterized by production which is not impressive in comparison with the “old” EU Member States. The average yield per hectare in Poland is lower by 40% than the average crop in Germany.
Dispersion of farmland
The main cause of poor productivity is the modest acreage of farms, whose average size is as small as 10 hectares. By comparison, the figure is five times higher in France and Germany.
Such structure of farmland ownership results in a small number of cattle and poultry raised in the Polish countryside. On average, on a Polish farm there are 39 pigs (and 2,603 on a Danish farm), 11 cows (and 87 on a German farm) and 303 hens and chickens (and as many as 45,857 on a Danish farm).
High consumption of fertilizers
The small acreage of farms is not connected with lower use of fertilizers, however. It is higher by 20% than in Western Europe. Polish farmers also operate more machinery than their counterparts from the rest of Europe. There are 13 tractors per 100 hectares of farmland in Poland, while in Denmark as few as five tractors.
Boosting the efficiency of Polish agriculture needs to be based on the gradual consolidation of farmland. To this end, mechanisms are needed to encourage farmers to take such steps. The small size of farms has been caused by both historical factors (reforms that dissolved and partitioned large properties of the nobility), and the strong tradition of dividing the land between all the heirs.
Consolidation is just the beginning of the changes which are indispensable. Polish agriculture requires more resources for technical innovation, education and investment. Otherwise, its full potential will remain unused.