Agriculture ministry has come up with a number of measures to help farmers whose harvest was reduced this year by lack of rain and excessive heat. Agriculture minister Petr Bendl said on Tuesday that the ministry will give affected farmers an advance on direct EU subsidies, that they would normally get a few months later. Farmers will receive a total of 9.4 billion crowns by October 16th, approximately half of the total amount for the year. This year’s agricultural yield is on average lower by one-fifth than last year’s and in some regions like South Moravia or Olomouc it is even less.
Glassmakers from the Czech company Kavalierglass created the biggest whisky bottle in the world. The hand blown bottle, which can fit 228 liters of whisky, is 1.7 meters tall and weighs 50 kilograms, will be registered in the Guinness book of records. The bottle was commissioned by a Scottish whisky producer Edrington Group. The Guinness book record will be the first for Czech glassmakers.
The hype over Western supermarkets of the 1990s started fading for Czechs sometime in the early noughties. As healthy eating became more of a priority for some Czech city dwellers, small organic food shops began cropping up in most cities. Organic was all the rage. Yet, many of the products sold in organic food shops were not locally grown, leaving a gap on the market for small and medium Czech farmers to fill.
Fishermen in Tábor, in the south of the country, on Monday began removing fish from a local lake to allow for the cleaning of the lake’s basin. The fish are stunned with electricity, produced by a submersible generator, before they are relocated to a nearby river or another part of the lake. It’s not clear how many fish are in the lake which was last cleared 180 years ago, the project’s manager told the ČTK news agency. Cleaning and de-mudding the 51-hectare large Lake Jordan will cost some 375 million crowns and should be finished in 2014.
In this week's Business News: new inflation and industrial production figures are released; the Czech postal service wins top marks in global efficacy test; unemployment climbs to 8.3%; Finance Ministry seeks to name and shame VAT avoiders; two supermarket chains fined hundreds of thousands for poor practices and foreign bidders seek D1 motorway contract.
According to an amendment to the law valid as of August 1st all pre-baked products to be finished at the place of distribution must be labeled accordingly at the given sales outlet. These oproducts allegedly go stale sooner and contain more additives. Although Czech salespeople have started adhering to the practice inspectors point out that the new regulation concerns not just bread and baguettes but also a broad range of pastry products such as doughnuts and cakes that supermarkets import pre-baked.
A study undertaken by the British University of Bath and released last month claims to demonstrate that tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco are successfully influencing Czech policy makers. The study suggests that lobbying efforts targeted at top officials have resulted in tax structures that favour their brands. The study, which was led by the University of Bath’s Risako Shirane and Professor Anna Gilmore, notes that the Czech Republic is also the only European Union Member State to not yet have approved a World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adding “tobacco control has remained extremely weak in the Czech Republic, with the country’s policies recently being ranked the fourth least effective in Europe.” Meanwhile, analysing the report, news site IHned.cz pointed to a recent decision by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek to raise duties on cheap cigarettes by five crowns, while the more expensive cigarettes produced by tobacco giants such as Philip Morris, were only increased in price by two crowns. Responding to the accusations, Philip Morris said that governments were entirely free to choose how they legislate.
On June 10th, a new consumer protection website was launched by the Czech Ministry of Agriculture designed to significantly aid in consumer protection. The site is named “potraviny na pranýři” – or “groceries on the stocks” (official translation: “food pillory”), meaning the old-fashioned wooden kind used to publically humiliate wrongdoers. The project has been a huge hit with consumers, while many leading supermarket chains are less than thrilled.
In 2011, Czechs collected a staggering 46,300 tonnes of mushrooms from Czech forests, or 11 kilogrammes for every household. The data was revealed via a government report conducted by the country’s forestry service and suggests volatility in the mushroom bounty across the years, highly dependant on the weather. The ultimate bumper yield was in 1995, when Czechs collected 58,500 tonnes. Additionally, Czechs collected 8,900 tonnes of blueberries, 2,100 tonnes of raspberries and 2,300 tonnes of blackberries last year.
Czechs can buy increasingly less goods and services for their wages. The Czech Statistical Office reports that inflation grew by 0.3% to 3.5% in June with a particular rise in the price of foodstuffs and tobacco. Analysts had expected 3.4%. Prices of vegetables rose by 18.5%, fruit by 10.4%, and eggs by 60.7%. Electricity and water prices were up by 4.2 and 12.0%, respectively. On the other hand, clothing, household appliances and home and garden tools all fell by 3.4 to 6.6%.
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