Future of agriculture- conference in Poland

During the Central Agricultural Fair in Warsaw a conference about vision of the future of agriculture took place. Guests from several European countries like France or Austria presented their views on the topic. Colleagues from China and Brasil presented their opinions as well – all this with active participation of the Polish Minister of Agriculture. Therefore, also Agricultural Counsellor from the Netherlands couldn't miss the opportunity and took part in the discussion promoting the Dutch vision of agriculture.

panelists at the agri conference
©A.Galica

Future of Polish agriculture

Polish Minister of Agriculture,  Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, during the opening ceremony pointed out to challenges facing the modern agriculture. The trend now in the world, especially in the European Union, is a model of sustainable agriculture. These are changes that will protect and have a greater positive impact on nature. The minister emphasized that a modern approach to agriculture - machines, innovative technology, research - all this can help agriculture. However, it will never replace the farmer himself and his knowledge. Knowledge about soil care, crop rotation is, according to the minister, the basics that farmers often forget.

- Soil is a condition of survival in agriculture. Treatments preventing soil from evaporation will be necessary this year. I ordered trainings for agricultural school teachers to let them know what soil is and what actions should be taken so that this basis of agriculture is not lost - the minister pointed out.

Polish Minister of Agriculture during agricultural fair in Nadarzyn
©A.Galica

Ardanowski also referred to the EU discussion on the CAP. He reminded that it was entering the final stage. That is why the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is particularly active on the forum of the European Union, meeting the minsters of agriculture of other EU Member States, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and European Parliament representatives.

Minister emphasized that Poland is the leader of the agri-food industry in Central Europe. What needs definite improvement is the level of farmers' organization in Poland, as strong farmers’ organizations are the only advantage of Western European farmers. He stressed that the activities of the Polish government in the field of agriculture, implemented programs and statutory changes, creating new opportunities for agriculture. Among them, the minister mentioned facilitations in agricultural retail trade and programs such as "Agro Energia" or "small retention".

The minister also pointed out that farmers must obtain income from products on their own farms. There is a space on the market for different production size: large farms can sell raw materials, and smaller get income from processing of the raw materials.

MEP Krzysztof Jurgiel presented information on the challenges for the European agriculture. He claimed that the work on CAP was very difficult because the works on the budget were continued and with no definite information on the resources, the address to challenges had also not been defined yet. MEP identified the following challenges for agriculture: defining the role of agriculture in the economy, functioning on the global market, increase in demand for food and fuels, climate change. He also noted that at the EU level the discussion was continued to address those challenges.

Dutch perspective

Carolien Spaans presented the Dutch vision of circular agriculture, soil improvement, reduction of food waste. She also informed about the pre-PPS soil improvement project executed in Poland in order to increase the knowledge of Polish stakeholders on the usage and implementation of sustainable agricultural technologies including use of organic fertilizers and soil improvers and precision farming technologies. The project is implemented in cooperation with Polish scientific institutions and is aimed at delivery of the learning module for dissemination of the knowledge on sustainable farming practices protecting the soils.

The counselor underlined that

Poland and the Netherlands share the view on topics such as need for healthy soils and strengthening position of farmers in the supply chain.

Other views

Marie-Christine Le Gal, French Agricultural Counsellor pointed out to common Polish and French CAP goals: strengthening the position of farmers, providing farming income in areas with constrains, encouraging young farmers, limiting GMO imports from third countries. She also underlined that labeling of quality EU products, geographical indicators protection,  are very important for international trade. The counselor noted that in French agri policy there is a place for small farmers – however their future is in agricultural cooperatives, which are already common in France.

Austrian Trade Counselor informed about the developments in his country. Austria focuses on sustainable agriculture: organic production, renewable energy sources, biogas plants, education aimed at innovation, digitization. Such policy allowed for increased farm productivity, which should be continued and supported within CAP 2021-2027: environment friendly and animal friendly agriculture. Austria also promotes agricultural income diversification from tourism, direct sale, energy sale. The policy is concentrated on maintaining agricultural areas, as they are important for the economy, encouraging young farmers, innovation in the countryside.

The following presentations from Brazil and China focused on opportunities for trade in agricultural products between the EU and those countries.

It was concluded that Austrian agriculture was most similar to Polish one, however also other countries can offer lessons to learn for Polish farmers. In the EU, it is not enough just to say what the farmers want but it is necessary to present arguments and base the discussion on sound knowledge. The future is sustained agriculture with high quality production.

LAN-WAR: own report-AG