Those interested in agriculture and horticulture came together during a seminar yesterday in Leusden, The Netherlands regarding the use of Eastern European temporary labour and the potential of agriculture in Eastern Europe. The seminar received more media attention than was anticipated. In the run-up to the seminar the program held a 'raffle for 10 free temporary labourers' which raised quite a stir in the national media.

The FNV called the seminar 'tacky'. Social media erupted in response to this seminar, and the press release on this site also aroused responses. The seminar was followed closely by media outlets such as PowNews, who have dealt with human trafficking before.

Ambassador for Slovakia Jaroslay Chlebo

More than just a raffle
The raffle for a Eastern European temp agency, with the prize of 10 x a free emplyee for a week, was only one part of the seminar. The Slovakian ambassador to the Netherlands, Jaroslav Chlebo, talked about the potential of his country, and the downward spiral that Slovakia has landed in since the fall of the Berlin wall. He used the dairy industry as an example.

He also gave a little insight into the Slovak economy by showing some general statistics of the share of agriculture. In 2013 agriculture accounted for 3.25% of GDP and 3.18% of employment. In trade, agriculture accounted for 5.07% of export and 6.49% of import.

Agricultural sector falling apart
Emile Roest from VVMZ illustrated this decline in his speech. Under communist rule agriculture was divided up into cooperatives of 1,000 acres or more. After the revolution the land was divided up among the members, which resulted in the large plots turning into many smaller plots. Some cooperatives were able to keep the members together; others completely fell apart. This has resulted in the sector being half of what it once was, and the irrigation only covering 10% of what it covered before the rotation. One of the problems is that the irrigation canals run through multiple properties and the owners are not working together. That complicates investments.


Emile Roest, VVMZ.

Investment Opportunities
Even with all the aforementioned problems, Emilie still sees opportunities for the Dutch agricultural sector in Slovakia. The country is relatively unknown and therefore there are still plenty of opportunities for investing. Also, there are various subsidy schemes that make investing in Eastern Europe even more attractive, the construction of a storage facility is just one example. The ambassador confirmed this from a tip on a new law approved by the Slovak government. The new law says, among other things, that there will be no distinction between residents of EU countries seeking to invest.

And the raffle for temp workers? "There is no such thing as bad publicity" can be applied to Lugera as well. After this seminar a number of companies called Lugera inquiring about their services. Tomorrow there will be a report on another part of the seminar regarding the benefits of the A1 compensation and a road map to successfully doing business in Eastern Europe.