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1 February, 2021 - 14:10 By Tony Quested

AgriTechE showcases innovation to Eastern European bloc

Cambridge agricultural technology thought leader AgriTechE is showcasing best practice to V-4 countries Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in March.

The Eastern European bloc is seeking to increase productivity through the adoption of Agri-Tech.

Poland, for example, sees the opening of the large and affluent EU food market as a major opportunity and is looking to invest in R & D and emerging AgriTech to build on its reputation for Polish agri-food products and to capitalise on the growing demand for more complex food ingredients such as for customised diets. 

The UK-V4 Mission will include a webinar on March 18 and is open to all agri-tech organisations. More details are at www.agri-tech-e.co.uk.  

Alex Dinsdale – regional growth manager for Agri-TechE – is coordinating the UK-V4 Mission. The aim is to introduce agriculturalists from the V4 countries to innovators within the Agri-TechE ecosystem. 

Dinsdale says: “The V-4 consortium is interested in agri-tech developments such as the use of drones, robots, sensors and farm management software for precision farming, as well as next generation farms and urban farming. 

“Academic and business members of Agri-TechE have significant expertise in these areas and the V-4 countries have a combined agricultural area of 26.6 million hectares representing an opportunity for UK companies to deliver these solutions at scale.” 

Michal Sobczyk, digital attaché at the British Embassy in Warsaw, adds: “It is Poland’s ambition to be Europe’s food production hub. Agri-food accounts for eight per cent of the country’s gross added value and the trade surplus is increasing.

“Many Polish companies have invested recently in the latest production-line infrastructure particularly in dairy, meat and frozen food and now is the turn of agriculture.  

“A major challenge is fragmentation, as the average farm is only 10 hectares (compared to 70 hectares in the UK). However there are other issues; our farms use 20 per cent more fertiliser than UK farms and we are looking for solutions to improve farming output and quality and reduce environmental impacts.” 

The consortium is also interested in FoodTech which encompasses innovation in the products, distribution, marketing or business model in the food sector. So, it is looking at R & D in areas such as nanotechnology in conservation, filtering, and packaging innovation. 

Also important is the need to increase food product complexity to move production up the value chain, for instance with organic food and products for customised diets. Creating greater job opportunities within the processing sector. 

Michal sees the March as the starting point for closer UK-Central Europe business links. “We see potential to include more countries such as Romania and Bulgaria in the UK-V4 mission and we hope that this initiative will create value for UK companies.” 

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-TechE agrees: “Our members are looking at international markets and there is no better way to gain an understanding of the needs and opportunities than by talking one-on-one to potential customers.” 

V-4 relates to The Visegrad Group; the alliance takes its name from the Hungarian city of Visegrad, where kings once met for economic and political negotiations. 

Agriculture is currently the fourth largest sector of the economy in Poland, and its contribution to the country’s GDP is much higher than the EU average. The V-4 countries combined have 26.6 million hectares of agricultural land with Poland accounting for15.5m of those. The UK has 9.34m hectares.

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