RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. This sixth blog is about migration by:
In the morning and afternoon, we were WWOOFing at Ekozagroda farm again. Today, we were divided into 4 groups for 4 tasks including weeding in the field, making spiral garden, repairing the fence and rebuilding the old house at the farm. Everybody had their hands dirty. At 1 pm., it was a lunch time. In Poland, lunch was the most important meal and polish people liked to have a warm meal. We were served with a typical Polish dish including potato dumpling, meat and salad. Then, at 4 pm., it was the time to say good bye to WWOOFing with a cheerful group picture.
The discussion evening started with a presentation of Dr. Malchar-Michalska lecturer at the University of Opole. Dr. Malchar-Michalska explained how the region of Opole suffers from increasing emigration of its population and what the causes are for this emigration. One of the root causes is the poor labor market in Poland. Although the Polish population is well educated, there is hardly any demand for these laborers. The national industrial sector, traditional a recipient of high skilled personnel, became almost totally dismantled after the shockwave liberalization policy of the 90ties. Secondly the Polish people generally lack initiative to invest. This deficit is nurtured by an education system that is ill adapted to the liberal market. Thirdly, the labor conditions of other EU countries are better than in Poland. These countries function as magnet to Polish laborers, distracting economic potential for Poland. The role of the EU towards economic development is bipolar: on the one side it (indirectly) stimulates emigration by opening markets, on the other hand it subsidizes the development of the agricultural sector. One can argue that the EU pushes the Polish economy into a deadlock position as mearly an agricultural producer and a consumers market.
After a short break the discussion evening continued among the participants of the study trip. Martina hosted the discussion evening by giving word to each of the six student groups. Each student group had to present a statement based on their topic and the information they gathered during the trip. This statement would then fuel up a discussion among all other students and the guests invited, such as Jens the organic farmer in Opolski. Just as a recap, the different groups were bound to the following topics:
- Development of the agricultural sector in Poland
- Land reforms in Poland
- The EU’s agricultural policy
- Migration and rural communities
- Nature conservation and climate change
- Tourism and cultural identity of the Gorale
Each of the groups had interesting statements but in general one could detect a similar pattern in most of the statements. In the end it all came down to the following question: ‘Does the EU policy enhance the socio-economic situation of Poland on a national scale?’
This question could be related to the sustainable development of farmers in Poland, the national nature conservation policies, migration policies and land reforms. The main conclusion was that subsidies by the EU are well-able to stimulate positive developments but that the subsidies are often used in a wrong way. Furthermore the Polish government seems to bend around their national policy in favour of the EU subsidies instead of the actual development in the areas of nature conservation, climate change and agricultural development.