The first harvest is due in early July, at the peak of the coronavirus. Farmers are asking for an exemption for the arrival of the harvesters.

Slovak farmers are calling on the government to urgently address the problem of the first harvest. This should start during July, at the expected peak of the coronavirus pandemic. However, for work to begin at all, it is necessary to allow the smooth arrival of workers and equipment from abroad, without immediately placing them in state quarantine. "Just like us, many other Slovak farmers carry out harvesting work through Czech or Hungarian companies, which have enough harvesters and service personnel, and with whom we have been cooperating for years in this way. However, at the beginning of summer, i.e. during the peak of the coronavirus, the transfer of equipment from the Czech Republic to Slovakia may be severely limited or even impossible, which may seriously jeopardise harvesting work,' warns Tomáš Kohút, CEO of the SANAGRO agricultural group. It is a group that brings together 10 farms in western and central Slovakia and manages 14 thousand hectares of arable land.

SANAGRO: Government must act urgently

In connection with the need to address this situation, which may arise in July and August, Slovak farmers called on the Slovak Government to address it urgently. Already at the end of March, farmers submitted a request to the Crisis Staff of the Minister of Agriculture to ensure the harvest. However, they have not yet received any concrete response. The owners of the cooperatives are therefore requesting that the permanent crisis staff, which, among other things, deals with food security issues in our territory, should also take up this issue. There is a risk that if our government does not ensure the arrival of harvesters and their technicians from the Czech Republic or Hungary, a large part of the harvest will remain in the fields or be harvested late, which in turn will have a major impact on quality.

"In my opinion, a large part of Slovak farms do not have such a volume of equipment and in such a technical condition that would be sufficient for a complete harvest in the required time and quality," says the CEO of the SANAGRO Group. According to SANAGRO, this is linked to the efficiency that comes with buying such equipment. "A combine harvester is a single-purpose machine that must be fully utilised for at least 2 months of the year to be economically efficient, which is only possible for companies to do in cooperation with each other within the V4. The technique is used in the "successive harvest", where the harvesters start in the south and move through our country until they end up in the north of Bohemia, so this problem also concerns our Hungarian and Czech colleagues," explains Tomáš Kohút from SANAGRA.

Lending to farmers has worked for a long time

The farming company reports that they have 12 working combines on their farms, and that they should have at least 40 combines for the amount of land they farm. " Equipment hire, mainly from the Czech Republic, has been in operation for a long time, with contracts being concluded well before the harvest. However, in the current situation, we are waiting to see what action the government will take and how it will allow contractors to enter our territory. However, this decision should come as soon as possible ," calls Tomáš Kohút, CEO of SANAGRO.

He adds that if the decision is not taken, there will be no one to carry out the collection work, because if the measures are not released, Czech and Hungarian suppliers will refuse to come to Slovakia and will contract other companies in their own countries. At the same time, it may already be too late to resolve the situation exclusively with Slovak suppliers.

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