Britislava: Slovakia is lagging significantly behind the rest of the European Union (EU) in terms of food self-sufficiency, a minister said Tuesday.
Slovak Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Lubomir Jahnatek made the remarks at an international conference organised by the Slovak Agriculture and Food Chamber (SPPK), Xinhua reported.
The minister said the country used to be able to export 30 percent of its food production while meeting the needs of the domestic market 100 percent.
"Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, and our food self-sufficiency in 2012 stood at 46 percent," noted Jahnatek.
Regarding the potential causes behind this unfavourable situation, the minister said there were reasons associated with Slovakia`s economic transformation.
In addition, Jahnatek said, even though the Slovak agricultural production and food sector gradually managed to cope with these macroeconomic changes, "in the end there was a final and decisive blow that brought the sector to its knees, namely the arrival of new practices in the sphere of food sales introduced by certain retail chains".
Jahnatek said some retail chains operating in Slovakia run their business to the detriment of Slovak food producers and suppliers, profiting from high margins but providing poor customer service and low-quality products.
Former Slovak agriculture minister Peter Baco believed that the Slovakian problems in food self-sufficiency are linked to the EU common agricultural policy.
According to Baco, farmers in the EU-15 (15 "old" member states of the EU) will continue receiving around 50 percent higher subsidies than Slovak farmers.
Apart from support from the EU budget, EU-15 countries provide higher state aid to their farmers compared to Slovak agricultures, noted Baco.
According to Baco, countries of the EU-15 also make it impossible for foreigners via laws to buy into their agricultural production.
"Meanwhile, they demand that we introduce full liberalisation in business with agricultural land," said Baco, adding that a solution to such discriminatory practices should consist in introducing a constitutional doctrine of "food sovereignty of Slovakia".