Agriculture as the backbone of the economic system of the Slovak Republic
In 2016, agriculture accounted for 3.6% of Slovakia’s GDP and occupied about 3.9% of the labour force. Farming sector is characterised by large farm holdings - the average farm size in Slovakia is 77.5 hectares, relative to the EU average of 14.4 ha. Over 40% of the land in Slovakia is cultivated.
The primary agricultural products are sugar beets, potatoes, wheat, barley, fruit, forest products, corn, pigs, cattle, poultry, and sheep. Another important sector in Slovakia's agriculture is malting and beer production. The country's most important agricultural trading partners are the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland.
Room for Improvement
The main challenge for the country’s agriculture is the lack of interest among young people in going into farming. Furthermore, R&D sector lacks investments. Only approximately 0,7% of Slovakia’s GDP is spent on scientific research, which represents one of the lowest scientific budgets in Europe. Slovakia’s agri-food sector needs fundamental support and incentives for farmers to remain in the market through enhancing eco-systems related to agriculture.
EIT Food Hubs in Slovak Republic: Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra and Slovak Business Agency
Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra is the only agricultural university in Slovak Republic. One of the main research focuses of the university is the food sector. With its national scope, the university brings the education, research and development and the transfer into practise together. The relevant internal infrastructure of the university for "agricultural product - food system" prioritly includes the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Sciences and the AgroBioTech Research Center with Transfer Centre. The university created National Platform AgroBioFood Nitra to present Slovak Republic in the field of foodstuffs and biotechnology as the national node.
Slovak Business Agency (SBA) is the oldest specialized non-profit organization for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is the unique platform of public and private sectors. Under the umbrella of the National Business Centres present in each of the 8 regions in Slovakia, acting as a one-stop-shops, SBA provides a broad portfolio of support services for potential starting and existing small and medium businesses (SMEs) from different sectors of the economy. The services are provided within the frames of 4 programmes designed according to the needs of existing and potential SMEs at different life-cycle. The main type of services provided includes organisation of seminars, webinars, lectures, and conferences for SMEs; individual consulting and mentoring; an internship programme; match-making services; assessments and studies to analyse Slovak business environment and to provide recommendations to reform the regulatory and policies framework in order to improve business climate and boost investments; awareness raising and communication activities.
The national dish of Slovakia, bryndzove; haluky, is potato-dough gnocchi topped with soft sheep bryndza cheese and fried bits of bacon. The dish exemplifies the nature of Slovak cuisine; high-energy, low-cost and quick to prepare.