Domestic farmers in particular are able to ensure a higher share of consumption of domestic products, one of the options being their own shops.

The latest data showed that less than 40 per cent of domestic products are on the shelves in Slovakia. Year-on-year comparisons show that their supply has been declining for a long time. Especially due to negative information about the quality of foreign food or the increasing purchasing power of the population, not only some foreign chains, but also Slovak farmers are starting to change gradually. Especially in larger towns, it is now common to find farm shops offering fresh produce.
Their number is growing every year. "We have been seeing pressure to import cheap products from abroad for the last 15 years and it is naive to think that we will reverse the trend in a few years," says Tomáš Kohút, CEO of the Sanagro agricultural group. "I am convinced that the honest way is the right way and will pay off in the long run. Slovaks deserve to eat the best and highest quality food," he adds.

Ensuring sales 

Sanagro then processes and sells some of the produce it grows or preserves on its farms. "We have recently entered the Agronova Liptov farm, which produces dairy products under the Bukovina brand. For us, joining this company means a greater focus on processing our own raw materials - sheep's milk and part of the cow's milk production. By opening our own shop, we have also secured sales of these products together with packaged fresh meat, natural juices and our free-range eggs," says Tomáš Kohút. In an effort to bring its own farm products directly to the customer's table, Sanagro recently opened its own store in Bratislava's Fresh Market.
Customers will only find products directly from our own and cooperating farms.
According to the director, this is one of the ways Slovak farmers can increase the supply and consumption of domestic products. "Producing quality food with a reasonable profit is very difficult. It is therefore natural that the price of such products is higher. The reason for this is that the costs of their production are also higher than abroad," says Tomáš Kohút. The subsidy policy of other European countries allows them to produce at significantly lower prices. In our country, therefore, the sale of farm products is limited by the purchasing power of the population. The group's director points out that sales to large customers remain their priority, the reason being greater economic efficiency. 

Cooperation, not fighting 

Not only Sanagro, but also most farmers say that one way is to cooperate, not fight among themselves. They say that small farmers can beautifully enrich the range of products on offer, but they will not ensure a significant increase in food sovereignty. "I am of the opinion that farmers need to pull together. This supports ecology, helps the state itself in collecting more taxes and promotes employment growth," explains the director of the Sanagro group, which manages 21 thousand hectares of land in Slovakia and is one of our largest agricultural groups. Although the company has started to sell its products through its own shop, it also wants to focus on sales in food chains.

What the coronavirus showed 

The truth is that while in the middle of the last century the agro-sector employed 60 per cent of the people, today it is less than four per cent. The agricultural sector began to decline significantly after accession to the European Union, when the market for food imports opened up and Slovakia began to support other - more industrial - sectors to a significant extent. However, the need to increase food self-sufficiency has become fully apparent in recent months, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is spreading. At that time, Slovakia was threatened with the closure of its borders, as a result of which food imports from abroad could have been eliminated. According to the Sanagro group, this crisis showed just how important farmers are to the country. If they fell ill and were unable to go out into the fields, there was a risk that they might not be able to sow. This autumn, we could have seen real food shortages.

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