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Photo: Agriculture

Agriculture in the Czech Republic

Agricultural production and the food production related to this is one of the traditional industries of the national economy. The share of agriculture (together with forestry) in gross added value in the national economy is now coming closer to the average for the countries of the European Fifteen.

Czech agriculture has under its belt centuries of tradition that not only guaranteed the coveted self-sufficiency of the nation in basic foods, but also made this Central European corner of the world famous abroad. Commodities such as milk, livestock, grain, sugar and malt have long asserted themselves as agricultural exports.

Agricultural entrepreneurs now farm around 4264 thousand hectares of agricultural land in the Czech Republic, around half (54 %) of the total area of the country. There is 0.42 hectares of agricultural land per one member of the population of the country, 0.30 hectares of this being arable land (roughly the European average). More than one-third of the land fund of the Czech Republic consists of forest land. There has been a decline in agricultural land of 15 thousand hectares and a rise of 16 thousand hectares of woodland since 1995.
Whereas the area of arable land has continued to decline in recent decades, the area of land registered in the real estate cadastre as permanent grass land has risen by 71 thousand hectares. Half of the agricultural land fund is located in areas which are less favourable for farming (so-called LFA areas) and these are the very areas which support the creation and maintenance of meadows and pastures.

Most agricultural land is now owned by natural persons and legal entities. Some 599.7 thousand hectares of land were owned by the state on 31 December 2004 and rented out by the Land Fund of the Czech Republic. Czech and Moravian agriculture can be characterised by the serious fragmentation of land ownership and the large percentage of leased land (90 %) from the large number of lessors. The size structure of businesses differs greatly from the structure of businesses in the 25 member states of the European Union. Businesses with more than 50 hectares of agricultural land occupy 92.2 % of the total area of the agricultural land farmed.

Agricultural production employed approximately 141 thousand people in 2004 and this number has been falling steadily since the beginning of the Nineties. The percentage of workers in agriculture in the overall employment structure of the national economy is therefore 2.9 %.

Agriculture is no longer for the production of food only, but now occupies an important social and environmental function. Agricultural activity is an inherent, essential element of the rural environment that deserves care and support. Farmers are encouraged to carry out this type of work, work which is of such importance to the public and the environment, by a whole range of national or European subsidy instruments.