Following the visit in Estonia as part of the Press Trip organised by DG Agri, I was glad to see that so many interesting publications have been produced by this Baltic country to promote agriculture and rural development. Food safety, rural life, and fisheries are amongst the topics featured in the various publications. It is clear that the investment in marketing shows a commitment by the authorities to spread the word about the challenges and opportunities being faced by the industry.
Estonia is similar to my homeland, Malta, at least in one particular way. The contribution to the GDP by the agriculture industry is between 2% and 3% in both countries. This goes to say that the area does not reflect the share of agriculture to the total economy of a country. Similar to Malta, agriculture provides the means to produce food for the local population, contribute to the upkeep of the landscape, and nurture traditions. The boost that Estonia has had following its accession in the EU is not one to remain unnoticed.
In Estonia, about twenty-seven local action groups have been formed under the LEADER Programme, the fourth pillar of the Rural Development policy (2007-2013). The funds administered by these local action groups have aided in the promotion of local initiatives so as to achieve the best possible results out of the other three pillars.
Facts about the Republic of Estonia:
Geographical Location: Northern-Europe
Total Area: 45 227 kilometres squared
Population: 1.34 million
Rural Population: 33% of total population
Land devoted to agriculture: 21% of the total area
GDP share of agriculture: 2%