Diakovce, September 7 (TASR) – The Agriculture Ministry continues to support the cultivation of beet sugar and sugar production in Slovakia, stated Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (Slovak National Party/SNS) on Friday after meeting beet sugar growers and sugar producers.
According to Matecna, almost a year after the sugar quotas were scrapped in the European Union, the price of this commodity has been falling sharply due to its surplus. “Many western countries have increased their sugar beet areas and sugar has started to be imported from Thailand and India, resulting in a fall of the price of sugar by almost 50 percent. All this gets sugar beet growers and sugar producers into a position at which sugar production is becoming less profitable,” said Matecna. She went on to say that Slovakia used to have 41 sugar factories in the past, whereas now there are only two of them – Povazsky cukrovar in Trencianska Tepla (Trencin region) and sugar factory in Sered (Trnava region).
Sugar beet in Slovakia is currently cultivated on an area of more than 22,000 hectares. “And there are two sugar factories that employ more than 3,000 people. That’s why I welcome the decision of the Agriculture Ministry to use the Green Oil project to support sugar beet growers,” said Slovak Agricultural and Food Chamber (SPPK) chairman Emil Macho.
According to President of the Sugar Beet Growers Association Robert Kovacs, following the scrapping of sugar quotas in Europe a classic commercial war has been taking place and the Slovak producers might not survive it without the Government’s support. “The European Commission abolished a good quota system that worked well. We disagreed with the Union’s decision because it’s a suicidal move in a way. We see the interests of big players, such as France, Germany and Benelux behind it, as they would like to acquire this sophisticated production for themselves and secure the entire market of this kind,” said Kovacs, adding that he’s glad that the state has decided to support this sector.
According to Matecna, it’s important for Slovakia to maintain its current self-sufficiency in sugar production and at the same time it’s important for both sugar beet growers and the sugar industry to make a profit.