Agroweb Template: Country profile

Country profile

The land
Other indicators

Agricultural sector

National agricultural policy
Land tenure
Land use
Sowing area
Number of farm animals
Rural infrastructure
Agricultural inputs

Seed sector

Variety evaluation, registration and release
Seed production
Seed testing, certification and control Seed processing, storage, marketing and distribution
Seed training and extension
Application of plant biotechnology
Plant genetic resources

The land

Total area 78 866 km2Plains, hills and plateaux; some surrounded by low mountains.Climate is temperate with cool summers and cold, cloudy, humid winters with variations from mostly maritime to mostly continental.Arable land and permanent crops cover 3.1 million ha; permanent pastures in 0.97 million ha and forests in 2.6 million ha. Main crops include winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, potatoes, rapeseed, sugar beet, maize, hops and fruit.

Other indicators

Population 10.2 million

GNP per capita $ 10.551 (upper middle income).
The value added of agriculture as percentage of GDP was 3,3 % in 2004.

Agricultural sector

The economic reform in the Czech Republic is going on and the country is member of OECD. In 1998 year there were made changes of economic priorities that have had positive influence in agriculture. after some oscillations, the gross agricultural production is increasing. The state market Regulation Fund in Agriculture increased notably and has influenced in the regulation of the market for main products as cereals and milk.
Now the Czech Republic is a member of EU.
The 'Velvet Revolution' brought with it agriculture transformation conserving all previous investments due to the priority given to the change of ownership. The image of Czech Republic as one of the most stable and prosperous of post-Communist state was damaged a bit during 1997 crisis, but the Czech problems are too much direct and indirect government influence on the privatised economy.

National agricultural policy

Land tenure

In 1989 land and other properties began to be transferred under the orientation that as much as possible properties go into private hands through restitution, transformation of the co-operative propriety and privatisation. Most agricultural land is used by large scale farms and newly established agricultural enterprises.

Land use

arable land

3 055 000 ha

hop yard

11 000 ha

vineyard

18 000 ha

orchards

47 300 ha

grasslands and pastures

972 000 ha

farm land

4 265 000 ha

forest land

2 646 000 ha

farm land per capita

0,405 ha

arable land per capita

0,290 ha

Source: Statistical Yearbook of Land Use, Prague 2005

Sowing area (year 2004)

cereal crops

1 562 117 ha

including wheat

848 830 ha

  rye

35 332 ha

  barley

488 070 ha

  oat

61 027 ha

leguminous plants

34 172 ha

potatoes

38 311 ha

technical plants

425 638 ha

fodder crops on arable land

527 458 ha

vegetables

12 667 ha

Source: Czech Statistical Office www.czso.cz

Number of farm animals (to 1.3. 2004)

Poultry

25 372 000

Sheep

140 000

Horses

21 000

Swine

2 877 000

Cattle

1 397 000

Source: Czech Statistical Office www.czso.cz

Rural infrastructure

Private agriculture enterprises make business at about 99 % of the farming land acreage. The market is liberalised totally. All the agro-processing industries are privatised too, right after 1989 year.
Water conduits and sewerage systems are operated by specialised companies, partially even by farming and housing co-operatives, technical services, state enterprise of Forests, army and private persons.

Agricultural inputs

The high cost of inputs has limited their use; this affected negatively the yield of some crops and the level of total production.
Production subsidies assessment is increasing after a certain decline in past years.

Seed sector

The Czech Republic has joined the UPOV Convention and national legislation respects intellectual Property Rights and all principles accepted by EC. The new law on seeds, in force from January 2000 aims the compatibility with EU legislation. The Austrian law was taken as pattern.
Certtified seed is used in nearly 25 % of the surface, compared to nearly 100 % before 90-es. The government is giving subsidies to seed industry.

Plant breeding

After 90-es, through a quick privatisation system, almost all the existing state breeding centres were privatised and nothing was lost. Only the Research Institute of Crop Production, where also the Genetic Bank is situated remains a state institute, where basic research is led. New forms of plants created there are given to other breeding centres and the royalty divided between them.
The breeding of high yielding varieties continues in private stations, many of which take part in associations, even with a better efficiency and less expenses. More than 80 % of varieties in use are country varieties. Due advanced breeding the country cvs. and F1 are still competitive to foreign ones in most important crops as cereals, potatoes, vegetables, fruit trees etc. except for maize F1, sunflower and sugar beet. The price of country varieties is lower than that of foreign ones.
A considerable number of Czech varieties are registered now in European list of cultivars and commercialised in western countries too.

Variety evaluation, registration and release

The variety evaluation, registration and release is centralised and performed by the Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture (in Brno), which has different specialised institutes in various regions. The country and foreign varieties must be tested for 1-3 years in official trials and then proposed to the Ministry of Agriculture to be approved and registered and then published in the official catalogue. In cases of emergency the Ministry may decide to introduce not tested varieties.

Seed production

The seed is produced mainly by private seed companies, which are organised in very active associations. The breeding stations produce only small quantities of pre base seed, the rest being multiplied mainly in specialised farms. According to new law all persons multiplying seed must be registered in the Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture, have the needed knowledge or appropriate education on seed through courses and pay the fees.
Seed multiplication for export (country and foreign varieties) is performed as well in the Czech Republic.

Seed testing, certification and control

The Division of Seeds and Planting Materials of the Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture performs all the analysis, controls and certification of seed produced in the country. ISTA methods are applied on all crops. The special state inspectoriate approves the seed multiplication plots controlling variety characteristics, diseases, etc. Pre and post harvest controls are applied and the seeds are certified according to ISTA and OECD models. Continuous controls and analysis for virus presence are performed on tree planting materials. Czech Republic is among the founders of ISTA. In June 1998 there was a commemoration of 120 years of seed control.
The not certified seed in use comes nearly all from the reproduction of self seed by the farmers for their own use.

Seed processing, storage, marketing and distribution

The processing of seed is performed by specialised private companies, who had contracted the seed multiplication. Modern seed plants able to cover all needs for high quality seed prepare the needed seed according to EU standards. These companies prepare also the seed for export and act also in the frame of associations where the Czech Seed Trade Association is the biggest of the country supplying with 92 % of certified seed in the country. The state subsidies for farmers, according also to EU model, are vital for the continuation of breeding and seed production activity and also for increasing certified seed use.
In seed marketing and distribution there are also foreign companies who cover a significant portion of the market (especially in hybrid cultivars).

Seed training and extension

3-days courses take place yearly for field inspectors and field samplers (more than 100) on some special topic where universities professors participate as well and also for the qualification of the laboratory staff that performs seed analysis. Other training and qualifying courses, workshops and field-days are organised in the breeding centres and by trade companies in order to present the new varieties.

Application of plant biotechnology

Advanced biotechnology methods are used mainly in the Research Institute of Crop Production and in some breeding stations. New plants, belonging to a series of crops and resistant to diseases and different kind of stresses have been created there. These plants are given to specialised breeding centres for the finalisation of breeding work into new varieties.

Plant genetic resources

The National Gene Bank is situated at the Research Institute of Crop Production and has got 46.000 accessions in good conditions. Field genetic banks for tree plants are kept in different areas. The Institute is collaborating regularly with IPBRI and with COST programme and studying also the seed conservation.
The results of the institute are put in disposal to breeding stations (in majority private) and presented yearly in joint meetings with the National Board for plant Genetic resources in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
The institute considers important the continuation of exploration of eastern area (Bohemia), where industrial pollution is present, in order to find interesting wild forms for different fruit trees.