Country profile

SLOVAKIA AT A GLANCE

Official name: the Slovak Republic                       
Date of establishment: 1 January 1993              
Form of government: republic
Political system: parliamentary democracy
Constitutional system: constitutional and legislative power (the National Council of the Slovak Republic), executive power (the President of the Slovak Republic and the Government of the Slovak Republic), judicial power (constitutional court and courts)
Administrative organisation: 8 higher territorial units, 8 regions, 79 districts, 138 cities and towns, 2,883 villages
Regional capitals: Bratislava, Trnava, Nitra, Trenčín, Žilina, Banská Bystrica, Prešov, Košice
Official language: Slovak
Capital: Bratislava (428,672 inhabitants)
Neighbouring countries: Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria
Area: 49,035 sq. km
Population: 5,379,455 (out of them 51.4 % of women)
Density of population: 109 sq. km
Large cities and towns: Košice (240,915), Prešov (92,687), Nitra (87,357), Žilina (86,685) Banská Bystrica (84,919), Trnava (70,191), Martin (60,772), Trenčín (58,872), Poprad (55,037), Prievidza (54,405), Zvolen (44,328).
Ethnic mix of the population: Slovaks (85.8 %), Hungarians (9.7 %), Roma (1.7 %), Czechs (0.8 %), Ruthenians, Ukrainians, Russians, Germans, Poles and others (2 %)
Population and their denominations: believers (84.1 %), out of them: Roman Catholic Church (68.9 %), Evangelic Church of Augsburg Confession (6.9 %), Greek Catholic Church (4.1 %), Reformed Christian Church (2 %), unknown (2.2 %), without religious affiliation (13.7 %)
Main political parties in the National Council: SMER, Slovak National Party (SNS), Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), Direction (Smer), Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK)
President of the Republic: Ivan Gašparovič
Prime Minister: Robert Fico
Currency: Slovak crown (koruna), 1 SKK = 100 hellers (halier)
Membership in international organisations: EU, NATO, OSN, OECD, OSCE, WHO, INTEPOL etc.

GEOGRAPHIC COORDINATES

South: 47 deg. 43'55" of the North Latitude (Patince) 
North: 49 deg. 36'54" N.L. (Oravska Polhora) 
West: 16 deg. 50'04" of the East Longitude (Zahorska Ves) 
East: 22 deg. 34'20" E.L. (Nova Sedlica) 
Max. Longitude: 428 km (Zahorska Ves - Nova Sedlica) 
Max. Latitude: 125 km (Sturovo - Skaliste) 
Altitude above sea level: 95m (Bodrog) 2655 (Gerlach)

GEOGRAPHY

Substantial part of Slovakia is covered with mountains belonging to Western-Carpathian Bow. Mountains create several parallel stripes, divided by valleys, where rivers (river Vah in the valley of Povazie, Hron in Pohronie) run.

The outer stripe is created by lower mountains, covered with forests: Biele Karpaty, Javorniky, Nizke Beskydy. The inner part is created by Male Karpaty, Strazovske vrchy, Velka Fatra, Mala Fatraand higher parts of Nizke Tatry and Vysoke Tatry (Low and High Tatra) with the highest peak of Carpathian Bow - Gerlachovsky stit (2655 m).

Three lowlands are located in the southern part of Slovakia: Zahorska (Borska) nizina and Podunajska nizina in the west and Vychodoslovenska nizina in the east. South-western border of the country is formed by Danube river.

THE LAND

Total area of the Slovak Republic - 4 903 380 ha

Water area  - 93 321
Land area  - 4 810 059
Forest lands  - 2 044 927
Other land area – 863 752
Utilized agriculture land – 1 941 380
Arable land – 1 357 201
Permanent crops – 25 634

Sown areas of main crops (ha):

wheat (375 801)
barley (206 044)
maize (152 531)
oil-plants (215 548)
potatoes (19 415)
sugar beet (33 052)
vineyards (13 429)
fresh vegetables (10 023).

OTHER INDICATORS

Population about 5.4 million of which in agriculture 133.1 thousand (7.6 %, in 2000) 
GDP per capita $ 3 556 (upper middle income)
The average availability of calories per capita/per day was 2953 (1995-97).
Agriculture Production Index was 73.1 (the average for 1997-99, net PIN Base 89-91 = 100)
Share of Agriculture in GDP (GVA/GDP) was 4.1 % in 2000.
Gross Value Added by Agriculture 5.0
The labour participation of women to men was 0.9 in 1998.

NTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Slovakia is a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), World Trade OrganizationEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Slovak Republic is a member of OECD from December 2000, member of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (O.I.V.), International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT), the World Organisation for Animal Health (fr.O.I.E.).

After signing the Accession Agreement (April 16, 2003), its ratification and successful referendum, in which citizens reaffirmed their support for integration, Slovakia became a full-fledged EU member in May 2004. The EU integration became the subject of consensus of all political parties represented in the parliament.

However, the year 2004 is significant for Slovakia for yet another reason: almost at the same time, by accession to the North Atlantic Treaty, the process of its integration into the NATO was completed as well.

AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

The privatisation of agriculture has been applied in all sectors - land, agri-food market, agro-industries, etc. and was fully completed in 1997. Small private farms and business entities have been created from previous big state ones. The Slovak market also continues to suffer from the lack of contractual arrangements. The wheat and sugar beet export has increased, whereas the vegetables export collapsed. The customs union with Czech Republic is governed by a special council. In the long term trading relationships are likely to be governed increasingly by its links with the EU. A new grain storage and trading regime was established based in US system of warehouse receipts.

UMBERS OF LIVESTOCK IN SLOVAKIA

Source: Animal Production and Sales of Farmers’ Produce, SSO SR. Prepared by: RIAFE

SELECTED INDICATORS OF ANIMAL EFFICIENCY AND REPRODUCTION

LAND TENURE

Restructuring of the farm sector has involved the liquidation of a number of state farms that have broken down into smaller private farms. Co-operative farms continue to exist, but in they were transformed in new types of business entities, where the 'agricultural co-operatives' have 54 % of the arable land, the commercial enterprises - 30 % and private farmers - 8 % with average size from 1100 to 1500 ha. There is a tendency of 'agricultural co-operatives' to pass in the form of commercial enterprises, being these last more efficient. Availability of agricultural inputs In the early 1990 there were shortages of inputs particularly fertilisers and credit continues to be difficult to obtain. However the State Support Fund to Agriculture and Food Industry has provided loans to the agro-food sector at subsidised interest rates. The low purchasing power remains the main problem of the farmers and of agriculture in general. Now the quantity of state subsidies is related to the surface of land in possession, permitting a free and better use of them.

SEED SECTOR

The current law on varieties and seeds is in force from January '99. It is based in previous legal code of 1996 and aims better compatibility with EU laws. Slovakia is a member of UPOV. Certified seed is used in nearly 25 % of the surface, compared to nearly 100 % before '90-ies. Main imported seeds are maize F1 (50 %), sunflower F1, potato basic seed and some vegetables. Local varieties are far more used compared to foreign ones, due to good adaptability and yield capacity. Seed multiplication for export is performed for some crops as peas, beans, wheat, etc.

PLANT BREEDING

Plant breeding activity that previously took place at various state Plant Breeding Stations, still continues, but the stations are all privatised. Only the Research Institute of Plant Production in Piestany, where also the National Genetic Bank is situated, remains to the state. No genetic modified plants are accepted in the official trials. The breeding activity of private stations continues with the same intensity and in some cases it is enlarged. A considerable number of Slovak cultivars are exported in different European countries. Slovak Association of Seed Traders and Breeders has been created as well.

VARIETY EVALUATION, REGISTRATION AND RELEASE

The variety evaluation, registration and release is performed by the Central Institute for Inspection and Testing in Agriculture, which has different branches in the regions. The country and foreign varieties are tested in official trial fields for 2-3 years and in basis of their results they are analysed by special commissions, which recommend them to the Ministry. The new varieties are registered in the official catalogue, which published every year. Only the varieties of economically important species must be registered as is the case of major field crops, a large number of vegetable species, fruit trees and root shaped plants. They are registered on a Special List of species and seeds. Slovakia is admitted by OECD to register cultivars.

SEED PRODUCTION

Seed producers must be authorised to exercise their activity. Seed is produced mainly by private seed companies who organise the multiplication in different farms. The breeding stations in general produce only the higher generations, whereas the multiplication is performed in specialised farms. Lower prices favour seed producing for export, which is directed toward European countries. The presence of 'informal' seed sector is related to production for self use.

SEED TESTING, CERTIFICATION AND CONTROL

Field control and laboratory testing may be carried out by inspectors and laboratories of authorised companies through the supervision of the State authorities. The special Division of the Central Institute for Inspection and Testing with offices in other regions of the country is charged by the Ministry to analyse seeds and also control and organise inspection from sowing to their production. The ISTA rules and methods are applied in the laboratory for all crops. special analysis on disease resistance and disease presence are performed too. Varieties of species on the Special List can only be sold if certified by the State control agency or if guaranteed by individual companies, but always under the supervision of the State. Slovakia participates in four OECD Schemes for variety seed certification (Herbage and Oil Seeds, Cereals, Beet, Maize and Sorghum) and has applied to the scheme for vegetables. It also participates in the Scheme for Fruit and Vegetables.

SEED PROCESSING, STORAGE, MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION

The processing of seed is performed mainly by private seed trade companies which had contracted with the economies where the seed is multiplied. A processing industry is working as well and producing seed according to the limits of European standards and permitting the direct export of seed. In seed marketing and distribution there are present also foreign private companies as e.g. "Pioneer" which has a strong market in maize F1 and in sunflower F1.

SEED TRAINING AND EXTENSION

Yearly workshops are organised by the Central Institute for Inspection and Testing in Agriculture presenting new varieties to the farmers. Private breeding and stations and also trading stations organise demonstrative field days or harvest days. The international fair of Nitra is also a place where different workshops and presentations on new varieties and seeds take place.

APPLICATION OF PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY

In May 1999 a law on GMO was under preparation to regulate the application, testing, approval and registration of GMO varieties in Slovakia. National oversight is entrusted to the National Advisory Committee for the Assessment of GM Plants established in 1997. Advanced biotechnology methods are used in the Research Institute of Plant Production in Piestany, where plants with new characteristics are created and than given to the breeding stations.

PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES

The main Gene Bank collection remained in Prague (Czech Rep.) a new gene bank was build in Piestany at the Research Institute of Plant Production where part of the accessions from Prague were transferred. Now there are nearly 25 000 accessions in this new Gene Bank. The Gene Bank has good relations with the Genetic Bank in Prague and also with other breeding stations. There are other collections with a total of 14 500 accessions throughout the country, in 18 plant breeding centres (incl. the commercial sector), botanical gardens, etc. The Institute undertakes crop activities for cereals, legumes and forages and also special training courses on biotechnology methods for students of other countries in transition.