Poland’s agriculture is characterized by significant dispersion – the average area of agricultural land per farm is gradually increasing, in 2011 it amounted to 8.7 ha (compared to 8.6 ha in 2010). According to the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, more than half of the farms produce mainly or exclusively for their own use, thus limiting their expenses on food and family maintenance. Such farms are of a relatively small area and employ rather traditional production methods, consisting of a limited use of mineral fertilizers and chemical plant protection products, as well as of industrial fodder in feeding farm animals, especially cattle.
However, the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development states that despite this prevalence of soils of low usefulness for agriculture, Poland is an important European and global producer of agricultural and horticultural products, as well as of products of animal origin. The food sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Poland and thus of great importance for both the country’s and Europe’s economy. Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, the food sector experiences remarkable growth. In the first six months of 2011, 373.1 thousand workers were employed in this sector, which corresponds to 18.1% of the average employment in the industrial processing and 15% of the average employment in the industry in general. The academic faculty of “food technology and human nutrition” is available in 14 provinces in Poland (out of 16) and occupied 11500 students in 2010. Another 63500 students studied at faculties related to production and processing. Furthermore, the food industry branch is among the sectors with the highest foreign direct investment in the country, each year. According to data of GUS (Polish Central Statistical Office), 29 000 entities were operating in the food sector in Poland in the third quarter of 2011.
Poland also holds a leading position in the production of berries (strawberries, raspberries and currants) and outdoor grown vegetables, such as onion, cabbage and cauliflower.
Moreover, the Polish agriculture sector is very diverse. In central, eastern and northern Poland, potatoes, rye and grassland prevail. Orchards and berry plantations are located mainly in Mazovia (region of Grójec), in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, as well as in the Sandomierz region, in Greater Poland and in Łódzkie Voivodeship. Cultivation of plants with higher soil and climatic requirements is concentrated in the south-eastern and western part of the country, as well as in Żuławy and Warmia. Cultivation of intensive cereals, mainly wheat, as well as of sugar beet and rape, predominates on these areas. Cattle breeding is mostly concentrated in the Podlaskie, Mazowieckie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Wielkopolskie Voivodeships whereas the majority of pigs are bred in Wielkopolskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeships. Sheep breeding is more intense only in the mountainous regions (Małopolskie Voivodeship).
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