Agriculture and
industry in Slovakia
General overview
Historical evolution of economy
• According to common features, evolution of economy in the area of
Slovakia can be divided into 4 main periods:
•
•
•
•
Initial period (till 1920´s)
Second period (1920´s – 1945, 1948)
Third period (1948 – 1989)
Fourth period (1989 – present)
Initial period (till 1920´s)
Initial period had lasted from the establishment of the first manufactures
until the 1920´s. It was characterised by the predominance of agriculture
(both in employment and production).
Agriculture
•Agriculture depends strongly on natural conditions. In the past, this dependence was
even more significant than nowadays.
•Agriculture was the key economic sector until the 20th century.
•The first systematic agricultural measures (such as Theresian Urbarial Regulation,
three-field system, changes in the surface water regime) have been adopted since
18th century.
•Nevertheless, agriculture had mostly a self-supplying character and its efficiency was
low.
•Underdeveloped agriculture was not able to supply sufficiency of food for growing
population, especially in mountainous regions. This was one of the main reasons of
the massive emigration at the turn of the 20th century.
Initial period (till 1920´s)
Industry
•Rich sources of raw materials were the driving forces of pre-industrial and industrial
development. In the Middle Ages mining towns were the centres of strongly
developed regions.
•The most of the raw materials were exploited in neogene volcanic mountain ranges
(copper, gold, silver) or in the old paleozoic rocks and magmatites of the innercarpathian mountain ranges (iron ore, antimony, pyrites).
•Thurzo-Fugger company (est. 1495) soon acquired a monopoly on the trade of
copper and became one of the most important medieval trade companies in Europe.
•Exploitation and processing of metals in 17th and 18th was on high technical level.
•In the second half of 19th century (circa 100 years later than in Western Europe)
began the industrial revolution itself – e. g. establishment of the first factories of the
modern type, wider use of steam engines, construction of railways, etc.
•In 19th century and also in the beginning of the 20th century started the decline of
mining. On the other hand, there was a rise of food processing (mills, sugar mills,
breweries, distilleries). Wood and leather processing became more significant as well.
•In 1910, most of the workers were still employed in small enterprises. Industry as a
whole was reaching only a low degree of concentration. Only about 18% of people
were employed in this sector.
Second period (1920´s – 1945)
Second period had lasted from 1920´s until 1945. In some parts of this period
there was an equal balance of agriculture and industry, but within the
Czechoslovak Republic, Slovakia was retaining its agricultural character. Between
1945 and 1948 took place a short period of the after-war economic recovery.
Agriculture
•After 1918, Slovakia became a less developed part of the newly established Czechoslovak
Republic.
•Although more of the indicators had improved, agricultural production was still very
dependent on natural conditions. Also the level of using of the agricultural
mechanisation was low.
•Very negative impact on agricultural production was caused by the First Vienna
Arbitration (of 2 November 1938). Slovakia had lost more than 10 000 km2 of its area
including its most fertile soils, large sources of both surface and ground water and more
than 860 000 inhabitants.
Second period (1920´s – 1945)
Industry
First years of Czechoslovak Republic meant the tough times for Slovak industry. There
were several reasons of its decline:
•lower technological level (in comparison to industry of the Czech part of the state),
•loss of markets (successor states of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire had preferred the
development of their own industry)
•economic underdevelopment in general,
•low purchasing power of population,
•global economic crisis at the turn of 1930´s
On the contrary, the second half of the 1930´s was the period of industrial rise:
•due to the fear of German military policy, important industrial capacities from Czech
border regions (Sudetes) were moved to Slovakia,
•industrialisation of previously weakly developed regions in central and eastern Slovakia
aiming to „hide“ some strategic industries (such as chemical plants, metallurgy
machinery, production of weapons),
•modernisation and wider diversification of industry (Baťa Shoe Company),
•during war – production for army purposes
Simplified scheme of the industrialisation in the second half of 1930´s
Czechoslovak Republic (est. 1918)
Moving of industry
(mid. 1930´s)
Sudetes (Sudetenland) – territory
occupied by Germany
March 1939
territory occupied by Hungary
Third period (1948 – 1989)
Third period (1948 – 1989) was strongly industrial and influenced by centrally
planned economy. Unlike the „West“, economy of the „East“ was not affected by
crisis. Only at the end of this period the development of the third sector had
started.
Agriculture
•Development after the year 1948 brought the most significant changes in agriculture
which are visible until present,
•In 1949 was announced a plan of collectivisation of agricultural production. It was
implemented in three stages (1949–1952, 1953–1956, 1956–1969) and consisted of
collectivisation of agriculture and handing over the land, animals and machinery to the
agricultural cooperatives. This meant the extinction of the private property in agrarian
sector,
•During 1960´s and 1970´s, former cooperatives (usually farming on the area of one
village) were joining into the agglomerated cooperatives with common management,
land and machinery,
•Despite of many negative features (small-scale thefts, over-employment, social harms,
massive and often improper application of chemicals, increase of erosion, etc.) hectare
yields of the most important crops increased threefold in comparison to the pre-war
period. To a large extent, food industry was self-sufficient.
Collectivisation (simplified scheme)
before
after
Third period (1948 – 1989)
Industry
Socialist industrialisation was the most important stage of industrial development. The
main phase of this process was aimed to a spatially balanced and extensive development
of industry implemented through the establishment of large industrial enterprises,
•Background of this industrialisation was based on the following "starting points":
• Slovakia´s location in relationship to USSR and COMECON* member states – convenient location for the
industries based on imported raw materials and also for the export of finished products,
• Utilization of the metallurgical base of Ostrava region – convenient for the development of machinery industry in
the north-west regions of Slovakia,
• Utilization of the manpower released in the process of collectivisation.
• Implementation of the new industries resulting from technical progress (e. g. chemical industry) or from
increasing of the living standard (e. g. manufacture of electrical equipment)
• Utilization of local natural resources and raw materials – e. g. sawmills and paper mills in forested regions;
cement factories near limestone; breweries and bakeries in the regions with high productive agriculture, etc.
•During SI were built more than 300 industrial enterprises and the others were rebuilt and
extended. Share of the industry on national GDP had increased from less than 40% in
1948 to 65% in 1985,
•Negative features of SI: unfavourable industrial structure with a predominance of heavy
industries producing a low added value, low efficiency and dynamics of the industry,
almost total dependence on COMECON and USSR, serious (and in some regions extreme)
damages on environment lasting to the present
*Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
Socialist industrialisation on the example of aluminium smelter in Žiar nad Hronom
Coal and cathode mass
from Ostrava
... and from Poland
Electricity from
thermal power
plant
Cryolite from
Czech chemical
plants
Limestone from Eastern Slovakia
Sodium from Romania...
Bauxite from Hungary and Romania
... and manpower released from the process of collectivisation
Fourth period (1989 – present)
Fourth period (1989 – present) is characterised by transition from centrally
planned to market economy and a sharp increase of the third sector. In 2009,
Slovak economy also had to face its first serious economic crisis since 1930´s
Agriculture
After 1989 started the process of transition and decentralisation of both agricultural and
industrial production. The most significant changes in agriculture were caused by its
transition to market economy. Transition consisted of the following steps:
•Restitution of land to original owners (or to their heirs),
•Economic transition of cooperatives and restructuralization of agricultural business
entities (collapse of the system of cooperatives in state property),
•Changes in agricultural policy
•Process of restitution brought the formation of private property and thus a new category
called „private farmers“, and also significant changes in ownership structures
•Most of the agricultural land is still farmed by bigger cooperatives (legal entities) having
this land in rent from its owners or from the Slovak Land Fund (Agency)
•Since 2004, the decisive role has the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. Unlike the
previous periods, also the non-production functions of agriculture (e. g. environmental,
social, recreational ) are becoming more important and supported.
Fourth period (1989 – present)
Industry
As with the agriculture, industry was also facing a difficult transition period after 1989.
A legacy of socialist industrialisation in the form of outdated and ineffective industries,
thousands of unemployed, abandoned factories and environmental burdens was a typical
„picture of Slovakia“ from the early 1990´s. At the same time it was an initial state of
industrial transformation, which lasted for the next 20 years.
Industrial transformation was implemented through the following measures:
• Privatisation – changing of the state ownership into private,
• Restructuralization – changing the production programmes in order to achieve the competitiveness of products in
the conditions of market economy; implemented through:
• Conversion of arms industry – almost all industries (in particular machinery industry) were, to a certain extent,
connected with the arms industry
• Reduction of mining – e. g. reduction of mining of coal and lignite
• Inflow of foreign investments – which had significantly increased since 2000 – era of industrial parks
It can be stated, that the transformation of industry was, in principle, successfully
completed. Contemporary Slovak industry is based mainly on the new-localised
industries such as automotive industry (including wide range of its subcontractors),
manufacture of electrical equipment (incl. subcontractors) and manufacture of plastics.
Also some traditional industries have still the important role: energy supply, food
processing, manufacture of basic metals (steel, aluminium) and chemicals and
manufacture of refined petroleum products.
Conclusions...
Current state of Slovakia´s agriculture and industry is a result of long-term development.
In line with the global trend, employment in agriculture was constantly decreasing while
employment in industry and in third sector was sharply increasing. Very diversified natural
and cultural conditions had caused, that each part of Slovakia is different. This is one of
the reasons of relatively deep regional disparities.
Western part of Slovakia (with capital Bratislava) and the smaller region around the town
of Košice in the east are the most developed Slovak regions. Also the most productive
100%
agricultural areas are situated in the background of these towns. Relatively strong
90%
concentration of industry can be found in the region of Považie. On the other hand,
80%
weakly industrialised regions in the southern part of central Slovakia belong to the most
70%
underdeveloped regions of Central Europe.
60%
other
50%
Unemployment rate in the districts of Slovakia industry
in 2013 (%)
40%
agriculture
30%
20%
10%
0%
1921
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1994
2000
2008
Thank you for your
attention!
Dr. Martin Valach
Slovak University of Agriculture
References:
• DUBCOVÁ, A. et al. 2008. Geografia Slovenska. Available on line at: http://www.kgrr.fpv.ukf.sk/index.php/publikacie/geografia-slovenska
• HROMÁDKA, J., 1943, Všeobecný zemepis Slovenska. In: Novák, Ľ., ed., Slovenská vlastiveda I. SAVU, Bratislava , 332 s.
• IVANIČKA, K. 1974. Geografia priemyslu. In Lukniš, M., Princ, J. ed. Slovensko – Ľud, 1. Bratislava, Obzor, s. 9 – 74.
• MLÁDEK, J. 1990. Teritoriálne priemyselné útvary Slovenska. Bratislava, Univerzita Komenského, 1990. 296s. ISBN 80-223-0006-3
• www.soga.sk
• www.nitrainvest.sk
• www.nitrafoto.estranky.cz/fotoalbum/nitra-kedysi/cukrovar/cukrovar-01.html
• http://px-web.statistics.sk/PXWebSlovak/
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Slovakia * agriculture and industry