Slovenia has a long history of agricultural production, in spite of the challenges of the country’s rugged landscapes. Thanks to its diverse collection of climates and terrains, Slovenia produces a wide range of agricultural products, including olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, prosciutto, the famed Prekmurje ham, golden Rebula and dark ruby Teran wines, vegetables and fruits, meats, and many types of cheeses and dairy products, to name just a few.
Food production, in fact, is a very promising activity for Slovenia. Because of its small size, Slovenia has a history of concentrating on quality rather than quantity in its agricultural production, and quality gives Slovenian products their competitive edge. “High- quality produce is something we do very well. Slovenia is very proud of its well-preserved and protected natural environment. Our unpolluted lands are a factor in the quality of food we produce,” the minister points out.
Building on this tradition, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has introduced EU standards in Slovenia’s agriculture, food and forestry activities and works towards making the quality of Slovenia’s food products better known worldwide. Dejan Židan, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, says that his ministry’s top priorities include ensuring food safety and that specifically for this purpose the existing institutions are being reorganised, in view of a more effective operation.
Within the rural development programme financing for the current financial perspective (2007–2013) Slovenia has access to €1.2 billion in EU funds (with the EU funds amounting up to approx. 75% and the remaining amount consisting of Slovenia’s own funds); the country has already used around 36% of these funds, a reflection of Slovenia’s willingness to boost competitiveness and maintain sustainable food production.
Efforts to increase food production
The ministry also aims to boost Slovenia’s food exports; only around 20% of the country’s food production is exported at present. Yet, just as Slovenia aims to continue to protect its rural environment, it is committed to using transportation methods that meet high “green” standards. “We want to develop efficient yet environmentally friendly, low carbon emissions transport for our food industry. Slovenians already know how to produce high-quality products; now we are learning to sell and market our produce accordingly,” Dejan Židan says.
Slovenia’s agriculture, food and forestry sectors, which have been fully privatised, offer high potential opportunities for investors. As Dejan Židan explains, “The advantages for foreign investors include a highly qualified workforce, a long tradition of producing high-quality agricultural and food products, and freedom from any barriers to investment.”