Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Little change in Poland's farm structure

As Poland takes steps to reassure other member states that it is a good European, news comes from Eurostat that the modernisation of farm structures is proceeding at a snail's pace. Average farm size fell very slightly between 2002 and 2005. The average farm size in Poland was now 12.1 hectares compared with 12.2 hectares in 2002.

Some 2.67 million people are still employed in Polish agriculture, although more than half of these were family members working on a part-time basis. To qualify as a farm, an enterprise has to have an annual gross margin of €1200. By this definition there are some 1,082,700 farms in Poland. 35 per cent of farms have less than 5 hectares of farmland at their disposal, while only two per cent held more than 50 hectares. However, holdings in the latter category accounted for some 26 per cent of all Polish farmland.

Around one-fifth of farmers did not own a tractor. However, despite their small size, only 5.9 per cent of holdings engaged in any other gainful activity on farm. One would think that there was more scope for rural tourism. Meanwhile, the sums received from the EU, small though they are, are vital to the survival of such holdings. Historically, some of them were worked on a part-time basis as smallholdings by industrial workers who have now often lost their jobs in heavy industries.

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