As the projected date of EU accession nears, Czech farmers are increasingly concerned about their ability to withstand tough competition on the common market. In an effort to boost their flagging morale and indeed the sale of Czech foodstuffs, the Czech Agriculture Ministry is creating a marketing agency and preparing a National programme to promote Czech agrarian products. There is just one strict condition: the products bearing the "Czech-made, quality-goods" label must meet a high standard of quality. Hugo Roldan, spokesman for the Czech Agriculture Ministry explains:
" The aim of this programme is to help consumers to easily identify high quality domestic foods on the market and to support the consumption and marketing of such foods on local and foreign markets. Not every Czech product applying for that quality label will automatically get it. The condition is that the products will be made mainly of Czech ingredients and will fulfill a high standard of quality which will be strictly controlled."
What the new logo will look like is still unclear but Czech shoppers will become familiar with it even before it appears on their supermarket shelves at the beginning of June, since the Agriculture Ministry is preparing to launch a broad media campaign in support of the programme.
So how does the Czech public feel about the idea of promoting quality Czech products? The people whom I addressed on the streets of Prague were decidedly enthusiastic.
"I think it is a very good idea. We should all give our farmers as much support as possible. They need it and I myself buy Czech made products whenever I can."
"Yes, marking the products is a good idea. The English government had a similar campaign some 40 years ago, I believe. And of course I would buy Czech goods -though I would expect them to be of high quality, which sometimes they are not. "
The "buy domestic goods" campaign is of course not a new idea and EU candidates are finding it particularly useful in their present circumstances. Hungary launched a similar campaign some time ago and Poland is in the process of doing so.