Folia Horticulturae

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Farmers' knowledge, attitude and practices in integrated apple production in central Poland

Zbigniew T. D±browski*, Maciej Majewski**

**Department of Applied Entomology
**Warsaw Agricultural University
**Nowoursynowska 166, 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
**Office of Training and Advise Services, FreshMazovia
**Niemojewska 19, 05-660 Warka, Poland

The country wide programme on integrated fruit production (IFP) - apples was initiated in 1990 by releasing technical recommendations by the staff of Research Institute of Pomology and Floriculture (RIPF) in Poland. After the initial expansion among orchard owners, the concept of IFP met some constraints. Only 14-16% of table apples were produced annually in the years 2000-2004 according to IFP principles. The primary objective of our academic project was to identify constraints in the implementation of IFP-apples, the only widely promoted programme on integrated crop and pest management, to be used as a model for other projects in Poland. Two regions in central Poland were selected for studies on the suitability of pro-ecological technical recommendations for farmers' implementation; evaluation of the quality of training; access to professional extention service; attitude and expections of farmers to producers' group organization and economics of IFP. Standard surveys on: knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP surveys) were carried out in 2002 and 2003 among randomly selected orchard owners in Grójec district as the leading and specialized region in modern fruit production in Poland and Warka district with traditionally managed orchards switching to modern technology, both located in central Poland. A number of limitations in the training of farmers as well their knowledge and the attitude to IFP were identified with farmers' suggestions for improvement. The lack of involvement among various groups of shareholders and co-ordination of activities at three levels: i.e. at upstream level (governmental), at farmers' field level and at dawnstream or consumers' level were identified as the major factor hampering wide implementation of IFP in Poland.

During the project data evaluation, the value of collected data was upgraded with wide acceptance of the sustainable production principles after the accession of Poland to the European Union in 2004. The survey results should be presently consider as the base line for future evaluation of the progress made by widely implemented national programme on integrated agriculture and horticulture production initiated by the recent Goverment initiatives. The newly established Parliament law (Dec. 2003) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development decrees (June 2004) on integrated production as well as the growing interest of wholesale markets and supermarkets in certified products shall stimulated expansion of IFP.

D±browski Z.T., Majewski M., 2006. Farmers' knowledge, attitude and practices in integrated apple production in central Poland. Folia Horticulturae 18/1: 111-125.