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Plateforme de connaissances sur l'agriculture familiale

  Pologne

The definition of small farms found in the Polish agricultural sector, measuring their size and character against balanced agricultural goals. The sector comprises, according to the 2010 agricultural census, some 1.4 million farms under 5 ha and with an economic size of 4 standards output (SO) or less. This represents 63% of private agricultural holdings in Poland. Although the number of these holdings is diminishing, their share is still very high. Analysis of this group has shown, that majority of these small agricultural holdings do not meet the principal criteria for the balanced development of agriculture, which is to contribute to national food needs in accordance with their area and the size of their production base. Clearly visible is a tendency to decrease an already low level of plant production and resign from animal production on such holdings. As a consequence they are providing fewer real work places, and the share of income from agricultural production in their total income is decreasing. These holdings are characterized also by being low balance with the environment. Primarily they are not sustaining soil productivity. Analysis clearly indicates a cautious approach towards support for small holdings. State help should be linked with clearly defined production and non-production obligations. Such support cannot hamper progress of family farms in terms of area structure, production and economic strength.

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Small farms are not only the most beneficial form of farming, but also a guarantee of strong relationships. Even before the First World War, it was noticed that smaller farms produce more output. So far, cultural phenomena have been neglected in most scientific concepts or have been treated as an object that requires funding rather than a potential source of income for rural residents. There are many reasons for this situation, including the belief that culture, as a luxury, requires care and financing, so if there is no money, we need to accept the omission of actions on its behalf. Research on the importance of the local cultural heritage in small localities showed that monuments are most recognized by the respondents, and historical events take second place. Small localities often do not refer to the native folklore, offering entertainment based on pop culture and western patterns.

One of the few manifestations of the regional culture is the so-called festivities, but cultural content becomes of secondary importance there, becoming a backdrop for social gatherings. Therefore, this raises an issue of capitalization and commercialization of cultural resources. Attention needs to be paid to new ways of capitalization of cultural resources, such as “cultural industries”. These are companies of independent performers and developers of creative industries, bookselling, film-making and other industries. The advantage of these measures is that the initiatives, although taken with a view to achieving economic goals, will have the ability to create social capital of various communities. The aim of the activities should be to exploit the potential of small farms and to construct the institutional environment and cooperation networks in order to maximize the potential of these farms.

The criterion often adopted when defining small farms is productivity – it is assumed that small farms produce food mainly for their own needs. As a rule, these are family, very often also small-area farms. Small farms fulfill also a number of non-agricultural functions in the development of agriculture and rural areas, such as acting as a buffer against poverty, having a diversification and multifunctionality attitude and providing environmental benefits. Ornithologists emphasize an important role of subsistence farms for the protection of agricultural lands with high environmental value. They claim that smaller stocking density, lower use of plant protection agents and smaller size of farms contribute to maintaining the biodiversity and attractiveness of the area.

Small farms also play an important role in the formation of rural landscape. Among the features of rural landscapes and small farms, the transmission of intangible historical values is the most difficult to discern. Another hardly discernible function of farms is the one they perform for their users, e.g. care for the youngest and elderly members of families. Poorer access to education and child care in rural areas is mainly visible at a level of pre-school education. On the other hand, it is difficult to gather reliable data on elderly care, as a large part of nursing homes is located in rural areas, yet this does not mean that rural inhabitants are their residents. It can be argued that the social significance of small farms is not only limited to economic values.

 

This text is kindly provided by the authorities of this country

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