A trade fair conference discussed the future of Czech agriculture

The conference "The Future of Czech Agriculture" with the subtitle "Economy, Soil, Water and Landscape" was launched at the TECHAGRO trade fair, raising great interest of the professional public.

Sustainable development of agriculture is essential for humankind, but it is also an increasingly complicated task. The biggest threats for further development in this sector were outlined at the beginning of the conference by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Petr Jílek. In his opinion, the future of Czech agriculture will be significantly affected by the outcome of the negotiations on the conditions of the EU Common Agricultural Policy after 2020, which are currently in progress. The Czech Republic's ambition is to maintain the scope of the existing agricultural production and to further increase it. We have good background for this, because we achieve top results in a number of sectors, such as breeding of dairy and pork cattle, growing of sugar beet and cereals, etc. However, despite excellent production indicators, we are far from achieving self-sufficiency; this could be helped by a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

According to Petr Jílek, the future of Czech agriculture will be also decided on by the attitude of Czech governments, which can influence the amount of subsidies from the state budget and reduce the administrative burden of the subsidy processes for farmers themselves. Governments can also help change the position of farmers in the food chain so that we can increase the share of Czech food in the retail chains and reduce the imports of products with higher added value. Another key factor for the future of our agriculture will be the ability to cope with the negative consequences of climate change. The ministry should help farmers create the necessary financial instruments, including a fund for hardly insurable risks. At the end, the Deputy Minister mentioned the factor of increasing environmentalist lobby pressure. "On the one hand, it is necessary to reflect the trends and to reduce the burden of agriculture in relation to the environment, on the other hand we need to conduct a rational discussion without unnecessary emotions, in which unfortunately we have not been successful recently", stated Petr Jílek. As he further informed, in the field of welfare, there is a fundamental discussion on the restriction of the transport of live animals, which would have a significant negative impact on cattle breeding in the Czech Republic. Support for livestock production is also essential in terms of soil protection, improvement of its quality and retention capacity. In recent years, Czech agriculture has generated a profit of 16 to 19 billion crowns per year, and this positive trend, according to the Deputy Minister, should continue in the future despite all the problems.

The emeritus director of the Geological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Václav Cílek is also convinced about the favourable outlook for Czech agriculture. The author of twenty specialist publications first summed up the results of serious climate analyses, according to which two-thirds of the world will suffer from drought, along with all the negative consequences, including geopolitical. The change is continuous and is chronic; hence, the areas that currently have water problems are likely to have them in the future and to a still larger extent. The consequences of these changes likewise will not be avoided by the Czech Republic, which lies on the climatic borderline and faces waves of extreme weather. More precipitation and stronger winds are expected from the north, which will fall on weakened forest cultures, while Mediterranean drought reaches this country from the south. In spite of that, the Czech Republic is one of the areas where climate change has been reflected only slightly so far, and what is most important, the annual rainfall total is not decreasing. "There is perhaps nothing as stable in the Czech Republic as the three-year rainfall averages. They have been holding steadily on the same level for thirty or fifty years, with very little fluctuation, "said Václav Cílek, who looks at the future of our agriculture rather with optimism. "Despite a number of problems, Czech agriculture will be in an increasingly  better position, because two-thirds of the world will be relatively worse off," stated Václav Cílek; as an example of countries with far greater problems he quoted India and China, where there is a steady growth of population and the middle class is expanding, which consumes more food products. In the future, both food and energy prices will be likely to rise.

Among the speakers at the conference was also present the economist Milan Zelený, even though he could not come in person and presented his contribution only virtually. He explained to the audience the currently running transformation of the global economy and the emergence of a post-global society where globalization is being replaced by localization and regionalization. In his opinion, information will remain global, as it travels in a digital form and connects the world, while physical production will take place within regions. The president of the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic Zdeněk Jandejsek, the Vice-President of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic František Chaloupecký and other distinguished guests also delivered their speeches at the conference.