Prague – Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia) has experienced the agricultural system under communist regime during 1948-1990. This system was known as collectivization, which was first enforced by Joseph Stalin in USSR during 1928-1940. In this system, land ownership was restricted from maximum 150 ha of agricultural land per family, then reduced until up to 50 ha, and finally private ownership was illegal in 1969. Farms must be collectivized, mostly under the threat of persecuted and imprisoned.
The collective farm failed to achieve its goal to provide food for entire country of Czechoslovakia. The productivity was low due to low farmer salary with no pension and the failing to create the sense of collectivity. In 1960s, the massive subsidy of fund, fertilizer, and machinery, was provided; and many young people were forced to study agriculture and help the cooperative. Czechoslovakia was able to produce enough food for the citizen. However, the price of this success was heavy polluted top soil caused by overuse of chemical substance and intensive machinery use.
After the fall of communism in 1989, the subsidies was halted which caused most of cooperative had problems in competing with the foreigner due to lack of fund to obtain advanced technologically and competent management. A quite large percentage of them collapsed, while other could survive and getting bigger. Nowadays, the farmers enjoy the agricultural subsidy like other EU countries.
In September 19, 2014, we had a chance to visit two farms in Czech Republic. One of them is a family farm sites, while the rest is a scientific center owned by Czech University of Life Science Prague (CZU) where domestication of wild animals such as Giant Antelopes from Africa and wild Llama from Latin America are being carried out and experimented for further use.
The family farm has long history. They had experienced live in socialist regime, the changing regime, and the more liberal system. Nowadays, the farm produces different crops mainly wheat and barley on 820 in hectares of land of which 115 are rented. The farm has huge storage facility and gives storage services, machinery workshop, dairy processing unit and quality control laboratory.
In addition to this, the farm owned more than five modern farm machines and produce mainly barley and wheat which are sold to whole sellers and breweries.
The farm also purchases milk from the vicinity, processes and produces different produces which are directly delivered to customers or final users on different outlets. The products range from packaged milk, yogurt, cheese, etc. Those products are the best in Prague market.
The field visit has been entailed to have a glimpse understanding of the agricultural system and sector of the European countries. From the mere observation, it has been learned and noted that the agricultural system of Europe is different from Africa and Asian countries where intensification and labor intensive mode of production are the unique features.
The other farm is rather an experiment oriented farm, where an experiment of domestication of giant antelopes (eland) is being carried out. It is an interesting place and scientists are trying to understand the behavior of antelopes, which are supposed to be used as another source of meat, in a bid to domesticating them.
The Antelopes came from South Africa, central Africa, Ethiopia and Latin America. All sorts of treatments are given to these animals to enable them adopt the temperate zone temperature. In addition to the behavior of antelopes, the potential use of Antelopes for meat has been discussed by scientists.
The wild Llama (Guanico) also studied in the facility regarding to the behavior. Unlike domesticated Llama which can be used as workhorse, the guanico is little bit difficult to be controlled. One of the interesting feature is they can distinguish their area for defecating, eating and sleeping.
The study of animal behavior is an interesting subject. However, the farm researcher noted that the intangible price of animal domestication is higher and beyond of any calculation, so letting them live in the wildlife is the best option. By knowing their behavior and adapting capacity, the preservation will be much easier.
Special thanks to Solomon T. Feleke