One of the things that we have noted in both Budapest and Prague is the lack of grocery stores with fresh produce. I mean, there is usually some fruits and vegetables but most does not look particularly fresh or abundant. At the Museum of Communism, it mentioned that before the Soviets took over in 1948, Czechoslovakia’s agriculture sector was made up of small to midsize privately owned farms. Collectivization began in the early 1950’s and continued throughout the 80’s. Small farms all but disappeared as the state “collected” them in order to establish large, state run farms. Mostly women and old men were left to work them as the industrial sector in the city became more attractive for men to make a living. As a result, agriculture continued to decline. After the change of government in 1989, confusion followed. There were few farmers left that had any knowledge of how to run a modern farm. Much of the available arable land was taken back by forest. There have been some gains made within agriculture in the last 20 years but it continues to be slow growth. Most land is dedicated to barley, wheat, oats and hops – mostly to feed the Czech breweries. The Czech Republic is the second largest producer of beer in Europe following Germany. However, fun fact, Czech people consume more beer per capita than any other country in the world. Richard can attest to the fact that they do have good beer!!
So, as we travel across the Czech Republic on our way into Poland, I have noticed that there are small and large fields along the tracks that are in various stages of crop – some are still black, others starting to become green and are in the process of being sprayed. Equipment looks similar to back home – fairly large but perhaps not brand new.
I remember that when Buhler was first bought by the Russians in 2008, my boss at the time made a trip to Russia to view the factory and surrounding area. He commented that the fields were huge but the machinery was not. That makes sense to me now as the state had created all of these large farms but in the end did not have the equipment or manpower to run them. As globalization and new technology continues to develop, I am sure that these countries will again be able to produce up to their potential.