According to the latest data from the Czech Statistical Office for the year 2020, the Czechia was completely self-sufficient in only three food groups – beef, milk and milk products, and sugar. For these foods, their production in the Czech Republic would cover more than 100 percent of people’s consumption in the country.
Common offer of dairy products in the Czech store|Photo: Radio Prague International
Self-sufficiency was still high, although not 100%, for cheeses and curds, for example. For example, self-sufficiency was less than 60 percent for bread and just over 40 percent for wheat bread.
The least self-sufficiency is for fruits and vegetables. Although the average Czech eats only less than 90 kilos of vegetables per year, the production is not enough to cover this consumption.
“For vegetables, we have long-term self-sufficiency, what we can grow in the temperate zone is around 30 percent. So we’re in a bad place there. And then it’s pork, poultry, eggs, we’re not self-sufficient there as well,” Vladimír Pícha, spokesman for the Agricultural Union, told Czech Radio.
Illustration photo: Filip Jandourek, Czech Radio
In the Report on Czech Agriculture, the Agricultural Union points out that the number of farm animals in the Czech Republic has decreased significantly over the past 30 years. According to the association, there is less poultry in the Czech Republic by 27 percent, cattle by 59 percent and pigs even by almost 70 percent. According to Píchy, companies are not paying off investments in new technology and are gradually withdrawing from animal breeding.
“Today, even those who achieve excellent results, but simply do not see economic security, are retiring. Any investment in animal breeding has a very long payback. Our breeders are among the best in the world in pig breeding, yet they cannot compete with the huge enterprises that are west of our borders.” the spokesperson pointed out.
Due to the reduction in the number of farm animals, farmers are facing a shortage of natural manure, which they use to supply the soil with nutrients.
Limiting agricultural production according to the union will lead to a further decline in the food self-sufficiency of the Czech Republic and an increase in dependence on imports.
However, according to Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), food self-sufficiency in the conditions of the Czech Republic is unrealistic due to the interconnectedness of the world. He said this a few days ago at the Zeme zhivitelka fair, saying that there is a need to focus on food security, for example the state of stocks.
Farmers’ offer at the traditional market on the Vltava embankment in Prague|Photo: Klára Stejskalová, Radio Prague International
According to Fiala, it is impossible for the Czechia to be food independent, because the customer is not ready to pay for it. “Collaboration and trade bring more choice and lower prices. That’s also why our food self-sufficiency has been declining in recent years – And it wasn’t declining because of the government’s decision, but because the customers are voting on it by the way they choose the goods.” said the prime minister.
Also, according to many economic experts, food safety – that is, their availability – is more important than self-sufficiency for the Czechia. According to them, it is therefore important to support Czech farmers, who will increase the variety of the offer, as well as to educate customers.
The Ministry of Agriculture is planning to support local farmers from next year. “We want to support sales to end customers, either from the yard or in the form of some company stores. But also the association of farmers into sales cooperatives so that they have a more significant position on the market,” stated the spokesman of the Ministry of Agriculture, Vojtěch Bílý.