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Agriculture and food sector in Lithuania 2009

2009 was a year of economic austerity for the agricultural and food sector. The global economic crisis due to a lower consumption, worse inter-settlements and tighter bank policy has become a serious challenge. A stable growth of value added, that prevailed in 2005–2008, in 2009 changed the decline. As compared to 2008, this indicator decreased by more than one-fifth. The decline of value added was caused by lower purchase prices of agricultural production. In 2009 the index of purchase prices of agricultural production made up only 77.8% of the 2008 level. However, the decline in this sector was much less than the average of the country.


The Lithuanian agricultural and food sector even under unfavourable economic conditions was able to keep a positive foreign trade balance though the turnover declined by more than 14%. In 2009 the export of agricultural and food products exceeded the import by 20.5% (LTL 1.4 billion) and accounted for 19.6% of the total exported goods, i. e. by 3.6 percentage point more than in 2008 and even by 6.8 percentage point more than in 2005.


EU and national support assisted the Lithuanian agricultural sector under the difficult economic conditions: in 2009 it amounted to LTL 2869 million. Market regulation measures also reduced a negative impact of the fluctuation of market prices: they helped to maintain the competitiveness, to expand the scope of agri-environmental measures. Simplified rules to obtain support (up to LTL 150 thousand) increased the number of applicants and beneficiaries as well as accelerated the use of funds. The establishment of Credit Fund has increased the access of economic entities to the necessary credit resources.


In 2009 the number of registered farmer farms amounted to 107 thousand, and the number of agricultural companies and other agricultural enterprises was 632. As compared to 2005, the number of registered family farms went up by 24.6%, but as compared to 2008, it declined by 1%. With reference to the data of crop declarations, in 2009 the average farm size was 15.0 ha of UAA, i. e. by 4.3% larger than in 2008 and by 30.4% – than in 2005.


In 2009 there were 2679 certified organic farms in Lithuania. The certified area occupied 135.0 thousand hectares or accounted for 5.1% of the total UAA declared. The average size (50.4 ha) of certified farm was by 11% larger than in 2008. In recent five years, the area of land used for agricultural purposes, state stock of land and land for aquaculture decreased while the area of forestry land and conservation land went up.


In 2005–2009 the share of employees in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fisheries decreased by 6.5 percentage point and accounted for 9.2% of the total number of the employed persons in 2009. Farming is no longer the dominant economic activity in rural areas. In 2009 only about 30% of the employed rural population were involved in the abovementioned activities. In 2005–2009 the number of SMEs in rural areas went up 1.2 times: in 2009, 9.2 thousand of SMEs were operating, including 73% of microenterprises. On average there were 8.3 SMEs per 1000 rural population.


More than a half (72%) of the total inland water fish is grown in ponds. In 2009, 4731 t of fish was caught in inland water bodies, i. e. by 2.6% more than in 2008. 1309 t of fish was caught in natural inland water bodies, for the most part in the Curonian Lagoon (67.6%), rivers – 16.0% and Kaunas water reservoir (9.3%).


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