Record amount of fish and crayfish sold last year

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2016, aquaculture enterprises sold 868 tonnes of commercial fish and crayfish, with a total value of 3.7 million euros. The volume of aquaculture production sold in 2016 was among the highest in 20 years.

While in 2014, a record amount (869 tonnes) of commercial fish and crayfish was sold, the volume of production sold in 2016 was only 0.1% smaller. The main increase in the fish and crayfish production has occurred in the past five years: compared to 2012, the volume of aquaculture production sold has increased 1.5 times.
In Estonia, rainbow trout accounts for the biggest share in the aquaculture production sold and the share has increased year by year. While in 2015, the share of rainbow trout in the total fish and crayfish production was 70%, in 2016 it was 78%. In 2016, the amount of rainbow trout sold was 680 tonnes, with a total value of 2.6 million euros – this is also the highest quantity sold in 20 years.

The monetary value of the European crayfish production increased nearly 1.2 times compared to 2015. In 2016, the European crayfish was sold in the amount of 0.7 tonnes, which is 1.1 times more than in 2015.

In addition to the rainbow trout and the European crayfish, other fish species are farmed and sold (perch, the Arctic char, the European eel, the African sharptooth catfish, common carp, silver carp, wels catfish, sturgeons (the Siberian and Russian sturgeons) and grass carp).

The amount of fish roe for consumption sold in 2016 totalled 4.9 tonnes, which is approximately 1.5 times less than in 2015. Also the monetary value of production decreased 1.5 times. In 2016, the value of fish roe for consumption sold totalled 127,800 euros, while in 2015, it was 197,000 euros.

In 2016, of the total production of commercial fish and crayfish, 9% was exported – 2 percentage points more than in 2015. Mainly the European eel and to a lesser extent sturgeons, perch, rainbow trout and the European crayfish were exported.

Statistics Estonia collects aquaculture data by surveying all enterprises with the principal or secondary activity of aquaculture. The frame of the surveyed enterprises has been compiled based on the register of enterprises recognised by the Estonian Fish Farmers Association and the Veterinary and Food Board, and on the data of the Statistical Profile. For the statistical activity “Aquaculture”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Rural Affairs, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for conducting the statistical activity.

Source: Statistics Estonia

The number of agricultural holdings continues to decrease

According to Statistics Estonia, the preliminary results of the Farm Structure Survey 2016 indicate that there were 16,700 agricultural holdings with at least one hectare of agricultural area or agricultural holdings mainly producing for sale in Estonia, which is approximately 2,500 holdings less than three years ago.

Although the number of dairy and pig farmers has decreased in the last three years, it appears that they have mainly reorganised their activities. The agricultural holdings that have terminated their activities are likely primarily the ones that only maintain their lands, i.e. agricultural holdings with no agricultural production, but whose permanent grassland maintained in good agricultural and environmental conditions is also considered as utilised agricultural area. This is a logical result of administrative restrictions. The agricultural area has not been removed from use, but is now in the possession of active agricultural producers.

Whereas the number of small holdings has decreased many times over a long period (by 6,600 holdings in the last ten years), the size of agricultural area has experienced a growth trend for a while. It has increased by more than 88,000 hectares in ten years, incl. by more than 37,000 hectares in the last three years, and already amounts to 995,000 hectares.

As of 1 September 2016, there were 6,970 holdings in Estonia that kept farm animals, poultry or bees. In the past decade, the number of holdings with animals has decreased by two times. The number of holdings engaged in cattle and pig farming as well as sheep and poultry farming has decreased. Mainly holdings of natural persons with a small number of animals have terminated their livestock farming activities. In the last three years, 790 holdings, i.e. every third, finished keeping dairy herds. Two thirds of them kept 1–2 cows for their own consumption purposes. Especially noticeable is the five-fold decrease in the number of pig farmers. Whereas until 2013 livestock farming increased also in terms of livestock units despite major decline in the number of livestock farmers, in the last three years it has decreased mainly as a result of reduction in dairy herds and pig farming.

As a result of constantly increasing concentration, Estonian agriculture has developed a structure where 1,300 holdings, i.e. 8% of total number of holdings, provide 81% of the total agricultural output. They use 67% of utilised agricultural area and in their possession is 81% of livestock farming, measured in livestock units. Although the number of dairy cows in large holdings has decreased in the past three years, the majority of dairy cows (63%) are still kept in holdings with at least 300 animals. Almost all pig farming is now in large holdings, and 97% of pigs are kept in holdings with at least 1,000 pigs. Poultry farming is also very concentrated in Estonia – 97% of poultry are kept in poultry houses with at least 1,000 poultry.

Despite the continuous decrease in the number of small holdings, their large share still characterises Estonian agriculture. Holdings with economic size less than 4,000 euros constitute 54% of the total number of holdings, but all together they yield less than 2% of total standard output of agricultural holdings. While production concentration into larger holdings is characteristic of the entire European Union, a large share of small holdings with minimum output is more typical of Eastern European countries.

Along with the concentration in production, the share of rented land has increased year by year. While ten years ago, the share of rented land was 55% of agricultural area, it had reached already 65% in 2016. In the past three years, the share of rented land and other tenure (mainly land used free of charge) has increased by 4%. Agricultural land is rented more by larger legal persons. While the share of owned land constituted the majority (77%) of the agricultural area of holdings with less than 10 hectares and about 35% of the agricultural area of holdings with 50 to 100 hectares (the rest being rented land and other tenure), it constituted only about 30% of the agricultural area of holdings with at least 100 hectares, the majority of the agricultural area being rented land.

The Farm Structure Survey 2016 was organised by harmonised methodology and with co-funding from the European Commission in all European Union member states. The Farm Structure Survey provided data also about the labour force of agricultural holdings, production methods and rural development. Statistics Estonia conducted the survey in Estonia. All data about Estonia are published in 2017.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Milk production remained at the level of 2015

According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, the production of milk amounted to 781,400 tonnes in 2016, which was a little less than the year before. The number of dairy cows decreased by the end of the year, while milk yield per cow increased.

On 31 December 2016, the number of cattle in Estonia was 248,500, including 86,300 dairy cows. Compared to the same time of the previous year, the number of cattle has decreased by 3%, but the number of dairy cows has decreased by 5%. The number of dairy cows has been in decline during the last twenty years with some small increases in between. At the same time, the average milk yield per cow has continuously increased. In 2016, the average milk yield per cow was 8,832 kilograms, i.e. 390 kilograms more than in 2015.

At the end of the year, there were 265,400 pigs and 87,200 sheep and goats in Estonia. The number of pigs decreased by 13% and the number of sheep and goats decreased by 4% compared to the end of 2015. At the end of the year, there were 2.0 million poultry, which was 8% less than at the end of 2015.

In 2016, the production of eggs amounted to 194.1 million, which was 5% less than the previous year. 110,500 tonnes (live weight) of livestock and poultry were sold for slaughter (incl. export) and slaughtered in holdings; the production of meat (live weight) decreased 10% in a year. The production of beef and pork decreased, while the production of mutton, goat meat and poultry increased.Milk production per cow, 1994–2016

The statistics are based on the data of the register of farm animals of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB) and on the data of Estonian Livestock Performance Recording Ltd, which by using models have been converted to the format necessary for producing statistics.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Last year’s cereal production was the lowest in five years

According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, cereal production was 934,100 tonnes in 2016, which is the lowest yield of the previous five years.

Total cereal production included 455,500 tonnes of wheat, 357,400 tonnes of barley and 32,400 tonnes of rye. The average yield per hectare was 2,658 kilograms of cereals, whereas the average yield for wheat was 2,769 kilograms, for barley 2,641 kilograms and for rye 2,616 kilograms.

In 2016, the sown area of cereals was very close to that of the previous year. Cereals were grown on a total of 351,400 hectares, which is 0.3% more than in the previous year. The sown area of wheat was 164,500 hectares, which is 3% less than in the previous year. The sown area of barley increased by 3% and amounted to 135,300 hectares in 2016. The sown area of rye decreased by 13% and amounted to 12,400 hectares.

The production of legumes was 109,500 tonnes, which is 27% more than in 2015. The average yield was 1,975 kilograms of legumes per hectare. Legumes were sown on 55,400 hectares, which is 77% more than the year before and also the largest sown area of legumes ever.

The yield of rape and turnip rape seed was 102,500 tonnes. In 2016, rape and turnip rape were sown on 70,100 hectares. The average yield was 1,462 kilograms of rape and turnip rape seed per hectare.

The production of potatoes amounted to 89,800 tonnes, which is 23% less than the year before. The sown area of potatoes was 5,600 hectares in 2016. The average yield of potatoes was 15,920 kilograms per hectare.

Source: Statistics Estonia

The quantity of pesticides placed on the market in Estonia increased by 15 pct

According to Statistics Estonia, 691 tons of pesticides (by active substance) were placed on the market in Estonia in 2015, which was 15% more than in the previous year. The quantity of sold pesticides has been increasing in the last five years.

Compared to 2014, the quantity of pesticides placed on the market in 2015 was 92 tons more, with the greatest increase in the quantity of herbicides and fungicides (46 tons and 23 tons, respectively). Insecticides was the only group of pesticides where sales decreased. Five years ago, in 2011, the quantity of sold pesticides was 461 tons.

In 2015, 8% more pesticides were used in crop production than the year before. Simultaneously, the agricultural land area and yield increased. When comparing the use of pesticides per hectare of cultivated land in the last five years, it has increased from 1.0 kg of preparation in 2011 to 1.1 kg in 2015.

In the agricultural use of pesticides, herbicides made up 69%, of which 68% were used in the production of cereals. In total, the quantity used for cereals was also the largest (251 tons in 2015). In growing industrial crops (rape and turnip rape), 57 tons of pesticides were used.

Pesticides placed on the market are pesticides bought abroad and brought to Estonia for sales. Pesticides are used as weed, plant pest, parasite and insect killers. The characteristics of pesticides — stability, low solubility in water and high solubility in fats — lead to their accumulation in living organisms and food-chains. Depending on the biochemical processes that the pesticides block, their toxicity to human organisms varies (cancerogenic, teratogenic, estrogenic impact). The use of pesticides can fluctuate yearly depending on climate conditions and variability in plant damages and diseases.

For the statistical activity “Sales of pesticides”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Rural Affairs, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for conducting this statistical activity.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Fish quotas to increase for 2017

Estonian fishermen will be allowed to harvest 3,507 tons of fish in the interconnected Lakes Peipus, Pskov and Lämmijärv on the border with Russia in 2017, about 17 percent more than this year, according to harvest caps agreed upon by Estonian and Russian officials.

Of the major fish species harvested in these border lakes, the Estonian quota for perch is 1,150 tons, for pike perch 830 tons, for bream 800 tons, for pike 125 tons, for roach 350 tons and for European whitefish 45 tons. Quotas for each of these species were increased, the Estonian Ministry of the Environment said.

“Scientists’ recommendations were taken into account in deciding on the harvest caps,” said Secretrary General of the Ministry of the Environment Andres Talijärv, head of the Estonian delegation. “Scientists assessed the state of pike perch, perch, bream and pike stocks to be good, whereas restrictions on catches of smelt and houting must be left in force in order to protect their stocks.”

Read more from ERR News

Beekeepers demand government subsidies

Estonian beekeepers would like the new coalition to show more interest in beekeeping, and want the government to support them with 20 euros per hive beginning 2018.

“All beekeepers, including small beekeepers, should get that support,” head of the Estonian Professional Beekeepers Association, Aleksander Kilk, told BNS. There are around 45,000 to 50,000 hives in Estonia, which means that beekeepers would get additional support between €300,000 and €500,000 a year, Kilk added.

Read more from ERR News