Food self-sufficiency is unrealistic for Czechia due to the world’s interconnectedness. Czechia, therefore, needs to focus on food security, such as maintaining adequate stocks of key foodstuffs, Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated on Thursday at the beginning of the agricultural fair Země živitelka in České Budějovice.
Former President Václav Klaus also spoke at the opening. According to Klaus, the current inflation rate stems from irresponsible actions by governments, which create massive deficits in state budgets.
According to Fiala, the effects of the war in Ukraine on Czech agriculture can only be estimated. The prices of inputs are increasing. At the same time, the demand from abroad is growing, and thus does the value of goods. At the exhibition, representatives of farmers and food producers pointed out the rising input prices, which may even lead to the bankruptcy of some companies.
In Fiala’s view, Czechia will have to deal with the risks arising from the conflict for a long time. Grain flows from Ukraine not only affect the European continent but also Africa, which especially depends on it. According to the prime minister, Czechia cannot be independent when it comes to food. The customer is not ready to pay for it, and products from abroad bring more choices and lower prices.
“Customers vote by choosing goods,” Fiala said.
Czechia is self-sufficient in only three food groups
According to the latest data from the Czech Statistical Office for the year 2020, the Czech Republic was fully self-sufficient in only three food groups: beef, milk and milk products, and sugar. For these foods, according to statistics, production in the Czech Republic would cover more than 100 percent of consumption in the country. Self-sufficiency was still high, although not 100 percent, for example, for cheese and cottage cheese, as well as for eggs, where in 2020, it was close to 90 percent. Self-sufficiency was less than 60 percent for bread and just over 40 percent for wheat bread and pork. The lowest self-sufficiency was for tomatoes, where domestic production did not cover even a fifth of consumption in the Czech Republic.
During the opening, President Miloš Zeman congratulated the farmers on a good harvest. He mentioned that he often encounters disputes between supporters of large and small farms.
“I think the far more important difference is between a good business and a bad one. So, let’s try to support the good ones and, as for the bad ones, force them into bankruptcy so that their businesses can be taken over by those who know how to run farms,” said Zeman.
During his speech, former President Klaus emphasized that, according to him, farmers or food producers do not cause high inflation by raising prices.
“Irresponsibility of governments caused this because they run huge deficits in state budgets. It was caused by excessive money printing by central banks. It was caused by the green ideology of the EU and its Green Deal, and the unfortunate and tragic war in Ukraine has added to it,” he said. He also mentioned that the fair is an opportunity to thank farmers for their demanding year-round work that cannot be accomplished via the internet by working from home.