They have got the land, they have got the hands, but no "head"
Today many Transcarpathians live with that they grow on the land. Because hardworking residents of Vynogradiv, Beregovo or Irshava have at least some fortunes thanks to vegetables. But small family farms that grow cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc., are currently unable to develop.
For lack of government support and normal market conditions makes investing in one's own business a very risky endevor. Deputy of the Regional Council Judita Peteyi told about benefits and disadvantages of being an agricultural producer in today's Transcarpathia.
- How producers and processors of agricultural products are feeling nowadays?
- First, I want to note that I have been in the business for 12 years and I have to say that now the situation for agricultural producers is rather difficult. And, unfortunately, there is no feeling that it is going to improve. On the contrary, the atmosphere in the country is now quite disappointing: manufacturers are left alone with their troubles. There are neither subsidies nor normal, available credits for us. For example, this year producers are unhappy with too low prices for their products. People are somewhat confused, because they have done a lot of work.
- Bur there are so many different programs approved at the state level to support farmers. Do at least some of them work?
- As far as I know - none. While they declare a lot of things, it is almost impossible to get real help. I often meet with agricultural producers, I have to be honest: they're just scared of where we are going. Sometimes it seems that we are discriminated against. We are able to witness a beautiful and smoothly running agribusiness in other countries, various opportunities which the state provides for manufacturers there. For us it is the opposite: people would have worked, but there are no conditions for that. It is ironic and yet hurtful.
- How do small farms deal with such challenges?
- Today there no large farms or greenhouses in the region. We have thousands of small producers who actually work to feed their families and still try to earn something. Although this year they complain that they have no actual profit. Also, smaller manufacturers suffer from the fact that for years they have been unable to expand and thus to earn.
Of course, they do not want to and can not pledge their own houses to get a loan for business development. Therefore they have to produce, investing their own little funds. But it turns out that they take away from their own families maybe the last money, investing it in the business. Note that often the whole family is in this business.
- But don't processing plants pay them regularly for raw materials?
- This year it is evident that processing plants from other regions who buy our vegetables and fruits, can not pay for the products. Entrepreneurs complain: they are paid, but with heavy delays because plants also lack the funds needed for production. After all processors today have their own problems, which again affect the agricultural producers. Therefore, people who work on the land, stay on the same level as five years ago.
Still, the producers were affected the worst. And if there no producers - there will be no raw material. We had to import vegetables from Kherson and other regions. Imagine that we imported products even from India. This is such a wrong force majeure, or rather hopelessness. So I have to state: agriculture today is unprofitable. Perhaps loans with adequate rates, subsidies would gradually improve the situation. Because then people would be encouraged to work and would have some confidence in the future.
- Mrs. Judita, you are one of the first, who attracted investors to the region. Do foreigners want to invest in the business of processing of fruits and vegetables in Transcarpathia?
- Yes, in 1999 we launched the first processing plant. If we compare the present and those times, unfortunately, the reality is very disappointing. Now, there are no benefits or incentives for investors. Instead, a lot of red tape, permits, for example, it is very hard to make Acts of business commissioning. Of course, such an unfavorable investment climate discourages potential investor capital. I, frankily, do not understand this position of the government. The investment policy must be completely and urgently changed.
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