RIGA - On February 6, Latvian President Egils Levits welcomed Agricultural Minister Didzis Smits (United List) to the Riga Castle to exchange views on national and European Union (EU) priorities managed by line ministry, the president's chancery reported.
Main focus was on knowledge transfer between Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies and agricultural sector, as well as ways of promoting agricultural exports from Latvia.
Minister Smits suggested to focus state support on export of products, especially their added value, to boost the growth in national farming sector. President welcomed the initiative and underlined that "farmers need a little nudge to start ‘swimming in deep water’, they need to understand that the whole single market of the EU with 450 million population is their home market".
Levits and Smits spent a great deal of time discussing smart, data and innovation-driven farming. According to President, the industry should make greater use of best research institutes, such as Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava and National Research Institute BIOR. Closer cooperation between researchers and farmers must be sought, President concluded. "Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies in Jelgava, for example, is a pillar of the industry and the whole Latvian economy. It might be a good role model for a competitive applied science niche university offering a special curriculum in Europe. University could create an innovation transfer facility for industry-driven research," President Levits specified.
President also used the meeting to thank Minister Smits for his initiative aimed at clearing inland rivers to remove debris and allow fish to migrate. Fish migration is vital for healthy river ecosystems, Minister Smits agreed.
President of Latvia and Agriculture Minister also talked about the implementation of the European Green Deal in Latvia. President Levits and Minister Smits both agreed that one of the key priorities right now should be the adaptation of European Green Deal mechanisms for Latvia. There are good opportunities that Latvia can use if it makes well-informed and balanced decisions, President said.