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Interest in Sapard low

BY MID-July, only 30 applications had been submitted for agricultural funding in Slovakia under the European Union's Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (Sapard). The figure was far below the 880 projects in the Czech Republic and over 1,000 in Hungary, because of what agency officials say is a lack of preparation among Slovak agricultural and food companies.

Slovakia had cleared the final hurdle to accessing its 19 million euro fund this spring, but it is very likely that most of the money will go unused, said Sapard's Želmíra Milková. However, she also added that the agency expects the number of applications to grow significantly by the end of the year. The agency also expects to be eligible for 19.5 million euro in 2003.

Although Sapard funds can cover up to 50 per cent of some agricultural development projects, some Slovak farmers and food-makers may be discouraged by the programme's strict economic criteria and investment requirements.

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