By importing and purchasing fruit, vegetables and meat from abroad, Slovakia is paying approximately 15,000 foreign farmers from China, Spain, Poland and other countries, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Zsolt Simon said as quoted by TASR newswire. The minister advocates supporting Slovak products and increasing the number of these products on the market.
"We'll all pay for this work as well as for the 15,000 unemployed Slovaks who could have produced these commodities themselves because all the preconditions are in place," said Simon.
Simon added that there's room for lowering Slovakia's negative foreign trade balance in agro-commodities from €996 million to €504 million.
"We'd like to achieve this first and foremost by supporting Slovak products, increasing the number of Slovak products on the Slovak market, introducing a system of direct sales to end consumers along with the so-called active farmer policy, linking the support mechanism of the ministry with the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Ministry, and supporting local and regional markets," he said according to TASR.
According to an analysis carried out by the Bratislava Economy, Agriculture and Food Processing Research Institute, Slovakia has approximately 2,000 hectares of orchards that could be used for growing apples alone.
"We have the capacity to create some 3,450 jobs in fruit-growing," claimed Simon. "As for vegetables, we could increase the seeded area by 9,230 hectares annually, which would amount to 4,000 new jobs."
Slovakia could also put its geothermal sources to good use and build greenhouse-based farms that could lead to 970 permanent and 800 seasonal jobs, TASR reported.
1. Aug 2011 at 6:00