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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » May 27, 2011
Polska... tastes good!
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Fresh Produce Galore
May 27, 2011   
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The Agriculture Ministry plans to set up a nationwide network of modern marketplaces for farmers to sell their produce.

Under the program, more than 300 new marketplaces may be launched over the next two or three years.

The marketplaces are expected to help improve the quality of life in rural areas. The ministry wants the construction, conversion and modernization of the marketplaces to be partially funded from money available under the European Union’s Rural Development Program for 2007-2013. The plan to develop a network of marketplaces in local areas is aimed at making it easier for farmers to sell their produce, the ministry says.

“We want to set aside around 70 million euros for this purpose while local governments could contribute around 30 million euros,” says Marek Sawicki, the agriculture minister. “We have asked the European Commission to approve this project. I hope money will begin to reach beneficiaries by the end of this year.”

The total value of subsidies to be granted under the program for the construction and modernization of marketplaces in a single district will not exceed zl.1 million. Only projects carried out in villages and towns with populations of up to 50,000 are eligible for funding. Under the program, funding will first be provided to marketplaces that are already in operation. The ministry estimates that around 200 marketplaces will be modernized and around 100 new ones will be built from scratch as part of the program.

The new marketplaces are expected to differ from most other marketplaces nationwide in that the vendors will be farmers and small food processing businesses. The ministry says the goal is to give consumers a wider choice of retail venues and an opportunity to buy fresh, traditional, local and regional products. The marketplaces will be open once or twice a week, depending on the need and the local government’s decision, the ministry says. Vendors need to be provided with comfortable working conditions, with roofing above the stalls and convenient access, officials say. This means the need to develop new infrastructure. The ministry says it wants all the marketplaces to meet uniform standards in terms of space and sanitary and veterinary requirements.

In September last year, the ministry announced a bidding process for those interested in designing stands for the new marketplaces. A typical stand is expected to enable the display of all products offered by a single vendor. The right conditions need to be created for the sale of meat, meat products, fish and dairy products, especially in terms of hygiene and veterinary requirements. Additionally, the space must be arranged in such a way so as to ensure equal access to all groups of vendors.
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