Nitra, August 18 (TASR) – Around 500 exhibitors have gathered for the 43rd annual Agrokomplex agriculture and food fair (August 18-21) at the complex of the same name in Nitra that was officially opened by President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Robert Fico and Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko on Thursday.
The top three constitutional officials all declared their interest in helping the agricultural sector and in developing the countryside as much as possible.
“More than half of the population lives in rural areas, but employment in agriculture is only slightly above 2 percent. Two hundred thousand new jobs were created in agriculture in 2005, now it’s 50,000 new jobs. Slovak foodstuffs make up 40 percent of all food sold in stores, while in neighbouring countries the share of domestic products reaches over 70 percent. We have to search for solutions in order to change this situation,” noted Kiska.
Danko in this connection praised a legislative initiative aimed at tackling the practices of food chain stores and at special levies.
Fico said that this year’s harvest will be one of the best over the past few years, but he noted that it might not be reflected in the price of bread. “If the harvest is poor and small, we hear that this has to be reflected in increased prices for certain foodstuffs, but when it’s a record, we can’t lower prices. We hear arguments that bread is only 12 percent flour and that other inputs can’t be adjusted to the harvest,” said Fico.
The premier went on to say that Slovak farmers are under pressure due to low prices and other elements currently present in Slovak agriculture. “We’ve responded to the milk issue very promptly. Now it’s self-evident that we need to pressurise the European Commission even more to address issues with milk and pork. We’ve attempted to resolve this two or three times but to no avail. I hope that the Commission will dedicate the same amount of time to these issues as it did to the curvature of cucumbers and bananas,” stressed Fico.
Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU has set three clear priorities in agriculture, added Fico. The first is to strengthen the position of Slovak farmers in the food chain and to combat shady activities; the second is to alleviate the administrative burden for farmers, mainly those caused by the Common Agricultural Policy; while the third is to protect forests and to take up a clear stance on forest policies from the EU. Slovakia will also pursue policies concerning animal husbandry and milk production.