Some Impressions from Estonia
Yes, these were really impressive days in Estonia during the ENAJ tour to this Baltic country, from 3-5 September. This rather small country in Northern Europe, bordered by the Baltic Sea, manages agricultural challenges and a successful export trade.
I was lucky to join three different rural trips and to visit some dairy farms, reports Christiane Aumüller-Gruber.
Since independence in 1991, agricultural life has changed. Private entrepreneurship became its main driving factor. In comparision to Germany, farm sizes are huge. Even family dairy farms work about 1,000 ha.
Saida Farm, an ecological farm, produces cheese from the milk of about 200 cows. The idea of its eight owner-families totally differs from the big Trigion dairy farm.
“We are very efficient,” asserted Joakim Helenius, chairmain of Trigon Dairy Farming, and former investment banker from London. During our visit, ENAJ colleagues could see by their own eyes that efficiency here is the most striking aspect of milk production: state-of-the-art production by about 2,200 dairy cows.
Finally, we were lucky to meet the Estonian Minister Tamm twice. He joined our field trip during the press programme and gave some opening remarks at the press conference after the informal meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture. Estonian agriculture is highly export-oriented. The sector had to reorganize after the Russian embargo. Big structures are an important advantage for Estonian Agriculture. These structures deliver good preconditions for competiveness in open markets, as Minister Tamm made clear. Nevertheless, investments are a presupposition sine qua non.
“We need investments,“ he said. And in Estonia there is still an absence of traditional small farm culture. Therefore, even in Estonia, it seems to be an issue to discuss how smaller, family-driven farms can work successfully and survive in future.