Slovakia: agrinews & impact of war
This is a special edition of a newsletter with agricultural news related to the impact of the war on Ukraine on the agrifood sector in Slovakia. Including governmental support for production of edible rapeseed oil in order to become self-sufficient.
Road to self-suffiency edible rapeseed oil
Minister of Agriculture, Samuel Vlčan, together with representatives of the company Poľnoservis, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure the production of crude rapeseed oil produced in accordance with food quality requirements in the Slovak Republic. The aim is to find a way to ensure the production of rapeseed oil in the quality of refined food, which would lead to covering the year-round needs of Slovaks (50.000 tons edible oil).
Although more than 400.000 tons of oilseed rape are grown in Slovakia every year, it does not produce food-grade refined oil. It is currently processed into technical oil and feed material and about half is exported abroad. As much as 97% of vegetable oil is imported from abroad, only 3% is pressed in Slovakia. The situation in Ukraine and the exceptionally high rise in commodity prices have, according to the ministry, highlighted the need to find a way to ensure the pressing and refining of rapeseed oil in domestic companies.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic therefore signed the MoU with the processor. "The Ministry will provide the company Poľnoservis with administrative assistance and cooperation in obtaining permits for the establishment of the line, which would normally take two years, "explained Minister Samuel Vlčan.
On the other hand, the company Poľnoservis, which is a major Slovak rapeseed processor and has been engaged in oil pressing and feed material production for more than 10 years, has committed to deliver a draft technical feasibility project to the Ministry within 4 months of signing this memorandum.
Within nine months of the signing of the memorandum, Poľnoservis will also make every effort to adjust the operation of its existing crude rapeseed oil production line in accordance with the hygiene requirements for the food business.
The company Poľnoservis has been operating on the Slovak market since 2011 and is engaged in pressing rapeseed oil. Poľnoservis processes more than 230.000 tons a year of rapeseed, producing approx 100.000 tons of oil and 130.000 tons of rapeseed meal. Due to their high protein content, they are an important part of compound feeds for animal production. The oil currently produced serves as a feedstock for the production of biofuels, which reduce dependence on oil imports from abroad and save up to 70% of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to the fossil equivalent). They currently contribute up to 91 percent to the renewable energy target in transport.
Farmers can sow on fallow land
In connection with the war in Ukraine, the European Commission has relaxed the rules for certain farming practices. Following this decision, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic (MPRV SR) introduces an exception to the procedures for Slovak farmers as well. In practice, this means that in order to ensure sufficient agricultural crops and their products, farmers can also use those fields that would normally have to remain fallow.
In Slovakia, the area of land that should lie fallow is approximately 36.000 hectares. MPRV SR has published regulations of the procedures, which states how farmers should report land set aside in applications for direct payments Aktuality - Poľnohospodári môžu tento rok osiať viac pôdy - Ministerstvo pôdohospodárstva a rozvoja vidieka SR (mpsr.sk)
As of April 19, farmers can apply for the Direct Payments for 2022. The deadline is May 16 for farmers who do not apply for animal schemes. The timeframe is from May 2 till May 16 for farmers who also apply for animal schemes.
Increasing food prices
- The price of Easter purchases has increased by 10%. The Easter feast was at least 10% more expensive than last year, as calculated by observers. The prices of many food products have gone up due to the rising inflation.
- Pork is expected to become significantly more expensive, the Slovak Agriculture and Food Chamber (SPPK) has warned. A kilogram of pork was sold for nearly EUR 2 two years ago. The scenario is expected to repeat as pork prices are rising again. In neighbouring Czechia, pork prices have gone up by 60% in recent months. An expert says an increase in the pork prices should reach its peak in the summer. An average Slovak consumes 37.5 kilograms of pork a year, which represents a 22 % increase compared to 10 years ago.
- Following rumors that kept spreading, that the food shelves (mainly flour) in Slovakia might become empty, the Minister of Agriculture assured that this is not the case. Slovakia does not export more flour than usual, the minister noted. The total capacity of mills in Slovakia - 550.000 tons of wheat - is used only by 59%. The Minister said 322.000 tons of wheat are ground in the country, of which one third is exported anyway. There is enough wheat until the next harvest, the minister concluded.
- From the side of the retail it is however noted that consumers are stocking up on sunflower oil and on flour. There is also the effect of speculants buying these types of products, in the hope to make profit in the future. Some retailers have therefore limited the sales of specific products such as flour, pasta and legumes, per person.
Vegetable seeds for Ukraine
The Slovak government approved €205,800 for purchasing seeds and fertilizer as part of the humanitarian aid for Ukraine. It is mainly intended for aid in sowing crops in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine and other farms further east of Transcarpathia.
Support for sheep farming
Consumption of lamb in Slovakia has been rising over the past three years - from 0,09 kilograms per Slovak in 2019 to 0,13 kilograms last year, and the forecast for this year is 0,15 kilograms per person.
Sales of lamb in stores in Slovakia are also increasing. While 8.000 pieces of lamb were sold in 2020, the figure was 15.000 last year. Breeders estimate that 20.000 pieces of lambs will be sold this year.
The Minister of Agriculture wants to provide support in the new EU funding period (from 2023) for sheep and goat farming in order to prevent a decline in their numbers. The goal is to increase the number of sheep from the current 297.000 to 500.000 by 2035.