von Mateusz Kowalik, Polish Green Network

Farmers suffer from the drought and lack of support for this

There is water in the fields along the road from Konin to Biskupice at the beginning of February. – It will soon disappear and you will have drought again – says Maria Staniszewska, and the farmers nod. They say that year by year there is less water and crops are less abundant. Water management was one of the main topics of the workshops for farmers in Eastern Wielkopolska. 

The event was organized by the Polish Green Network as part of the project „Bottom-up, Sustainable, Renewable – Just Transition Laboratory in Polish and German coal regions“. The meeting took place on February 10, and its main theme was the improvement of water conditions with the support of agriculture, with the possibility of obtaining funding. 

Fourteen people, mainly farmers, participated in the meeting at the Volunteer Fire Department in Biskupice. The workshops were led by Maria Staniszewska, an expert in organic farming. The long-time president of the Polish Ecological Club in Krakow has been conducting sustainable agriculture projects for over 20 years, incl. ecological. 

The meeting was opened by the lecture part in which the expert presented the methods and practice of water retention in agriculture. – The Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, including its eastern part, is characterized by low surface water resources. This problem results, among others, from climatic conditions, unfavorable water balance or low retention level and the share of forests and trees in the land use structure – explained Staniszewska at the beginning. 

The president of the Polish Ecological Club discussed the management methods that can eliminate this unfavorable phenomenon. Among the methods, Staniszewska mentioned, inter alia, regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, or the obtaining and management of rainwater through the use of closed retention reservoirs. 

The aim of the meeting was also to familiarize participants with the possibility of obtaining EU funding for activities conducive to the improvement of water relations and the development of organic farming. 

Artur Furdyna, a specialist in water ecology, who has been dealing with the protection and restoration of river ecosystems in Western Pomerania for two decades, told about the flow of water in a much broader sense. As Furdyna could not reach the hall in Biskupice, he previously recorded his speech for the participants of the meeting – and the organizers played them on the spot. 

In a half-hour presentation, Furdyna presented the impact of the river basin on water resources used in agriculture. – If we want more water, we need to pay more attention to it. Agriculture depends on water availability and should be particularly responsive to increasingly visible shortages. Especially in a region that is particularly threatened by drought – said the expert. 

The lecture part became the basis for a discussion about the problems faced by invited farmers on a daily basis. They reported that the decreasing groundwater level makes their harvest lower. They saw the causes of the phenomenon not only in climate change, but also in the abusive water management of the local landowner and in the outdated drainage infrastructure, which does not respond to the challenges of the present day. 

But with the water shortage, the list of troubles was over. It includes, among others, lacks of local processing plants for agricultural products and insufficient support in bookkeeping or the implementation of projects with the participation of EU funds. 

It all became the subject of further work. The meeting ended with the workshop part, during which the participants, together with the leader, developed ideas for projects under which farmers could count on obtaining funds.

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