PM Pellegrini Opens Agrokomplex, Talking about Optimistic Crop Expectations

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PM Peter Pellegrini and Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna (photo by TASR)

Nitra, August 16 (TASR) – Over 650 exhibitors from 12 countries are presenting themselves in an area of over 55,000 square metres at the 45th annual international agriculture and food fair Agrokomplex that was opened in Nitra on Thursday, said Agrokomplex director Branislav Borsuk, adding that the return to nature and traditions is its leitmotif this year.

Slovak farmers cannot speak about favourable weather this year, said Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) while opening the fair. Still, estimates regarding harvest results are slightly optimistic. “It seems that the crop of densely sewn cereals might be 170,000 tonnes higher than last year, while the wheat crop should be 208,000 tonnes higher. The only crop decrease is expected for oat and barley. Although we aren’t self-sufficient in terms of foodstuffs, there are still commodities like wheat, barley and maize that cover our consumption, or even exceed it,” stated Pellegrini.

According to Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (Slovak National Party/SNS), climate changes significantly influence farmers, too. “A lack of spring moisture then results in a lower production of cereals. Farmers count drought-related damages in tens of millions of euros, while July floods in the Tatras caused damages to people’s property, too,” said the minister, stressing the need to fight global climate change through much better water and land management. “Farmers will have to invest much more in irrigation systems, sluice-ways and water reservoirs,” stated Matecna.

The ministry has prepared systemic measures to ease the impacts of climate change on farmers. This year it allocated €22 million from the Rural Development Programme for the construction, reconstruction and modernisation of irrigation systems. In August it announced a supporting measure amounting to €50 million aimed at increasing the share of Slovak products on store shelves. This money is meant for constructing warehouse facilities, launching production of new products and increasing the production’s effectiveness. “Next year we’re preparing €70-100 million for farmers either from the state budget or from introducing a special levy from retail chains. The money will chiefly go to the creation of a risk and marketing fund, for supporting brand-quality Slovak foodstuffs and for building irrigation systems,” confirmed Matecna.

This year’s new addition at the Agrokomplex is Enviro, which is dedicated to companies and organisations involved in practical nature protection, environmental education, as well as the promotion and application of principles for a sustainable way of life. The F4 pavilion is dedicated to national specialities. The exhibition will last until Sunday (August 19).