Education Knowledge

Posted June 1997

Workshop Series on the Privatization of the Agricultural Sector in the Czech Republic

January-October 1997

FAO AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC have entered into a Trust Fund Agreement which is providing support for a series of workshops related to privatization and market driven approaches in the agricultural sector.

Through this workshop series, the expertise of farmers, skilled workers from research stations, university faculty members and specialists from industry and services is being shared with visiting farmers, extension staff, and members of agricultural organizations from Central and Eastern Europe. The workshops are providing an opportunity for those who have gained knowledge and experience during the privatization and transformation of the Czech agriculture to share information with participants from neighboring countries. The overall goal is to bring together participants from countries of the former Soviet Union to exchange of ideas related to better farm management and the application of modern production techniques to sustainable agricultural production.

Pronounced changes in the agricultural sector and the entrepreneurial situation have occurred in many of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the last five years. Agricultural producers are faced with strong competition from other business enterprises within the framework of national and international economy. Extensive privatization of large agricultural enterprises is under way in many countries and new land owners need to be aware of up-to-date farm management skills and more clearly understand the application of modern production techniques to sustainable agricultural production.

First workshop, January 1997

In January 1997, participants from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan participated in a workshop for agricultural producers, educators and extension staff. The participants traveled to the Czech Republic to discuss agricultural management skills and modern production techniques.

The objective of this workshop was to have participants observe Czech farm management skills and more clearly understand the application of modern production techniques to sustainable agricultural production.

The workshop was organized by Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic in close cooperation with FAO's Extension, Education and Communication Service. During the course of the 10-day workshop, participants visited a number of farms and agriculturally related industrial enterprises.

Among the topics discussed were the following:

Second workshop, October 1997

A second workshop is scheduled to take place in October 1997. Discussions will take place north of Prague in the town of Podebrady. The course will be organized in cooperation with Regional Agrarian Chambers of Nymburk and Mlada Boleslav and the Agricultural College at Podebrady.

Approximately thirty-five agricultural specialists from Central and Eastern Europe are expected to attend this workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to get acquainted with activities of the Czech agricultural sector under the conditions of privatization and based on the principle of minimum state subsidy or contribution to all sector activities.

This workshop activity, titled "Restructuring of the Agricultural Sector with an Emphasis on the Role of the Private Sector in Food Security, Agricultural Economics and Technology Innovation" will further examine the move toward privatization of the agricultural sector. Participants will examine and discuss models wherein entrepreneurial skills have led to economic growth and stability in neighboring countries. Participants will also discuss private approaches to agricultural development in the Czech Republic in the context of economic development of neighboring countries. As in the first workshop the language for nearly all of the activities will be Russian. Simultaneous interpretation of lectures from Czech to Russian will be done with some additional activities being carried out in Czech, Russian and English.

FAO specialists will participate in an organizational capacity and also in the presentation of selected lectures and discussion sessions. Activities will be focused on:

Third workshop on improving teaching and learning of agricultural economics at university level

A third workshop activity is being planned which will focus on improving the teaching and learning of agricultural economics at the university level in central and eastern Europe. After many years of working and teaching in a centrally planned economy, university students and faculty members in Central and Eastern Europe are finding themselves in a transitional period of shifting from central planning to a more market driven economy. This is proving to be a particularly difficult time for professors and students in disciplines related to the broad area of agricultural economics.

This workshop activity is designed to address specific concerns directly related to teaching and research programmes in agricultural economics at the university level. In the long term, this problem will be further addressed through a programme of inter-university collaboration including faculty and student workshops, faculty and student exchanges, case studies and other activities including the development of sister relationships among selected universities from Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe. This transitional period presents an opportunity for critical review and revision of agricultural economics curricula, the development of better teaching and learning methods and a modernized approach to university research and graduate level education. It is within this context that the Czech Trust Fund arrangement and FAO will provide a limited amount of financial support and technical assistance to help universities in the neighboring countries of Central and Eastern Europe to more effectively deal with these issues.

The main objectives of this activity include: a) bringing together, in a workshop setting, selected university teaching staff and students from Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe and North America to discuss how agricultural economics is being taught at the university level and the difficulties which are being faced by university lecturers in universities in Central and Eastern Europe; and b) identifying and describing changes are needed in order to meet the needs of agricultural economics students and lecturers in countries in transition from centrally-planned to market-driven economies.

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