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farming Strong Swiss agricultural output recorded despite droughts

rows of vines

Rows of vines in Valais, the canton at the heart of the Swiss wine-growing industry.

(Keystone)

Swiss agricultural production is up in 2018, driven largely by bigger hauls of wine, fruit and milk, according to the latest official statistics. Productivity is also on the rise.

The yearly production estimate of CHF10.6 billion ($10.7 billion) released on Tuesday by the Federal Statistical Officeexternal link represents an increase of 2.7% on 2017 figures.

Much of the boost comes from arable production, up 4.4% on last year.

So-called speciality crops such as fruits, vegetables and grapes make up a growing share of this at 61% (compared with 50% in 2000). These products, most of them irrigable and thus more resistant to drought, helped to offset losses in the cereals sector due to hot and dry conditions this summer.

+ Switzerland’s farmers must adapt to avoid future drought-driven crises

Animal production, which represents just under half of all agricultural output, also rose, but less sharply at 1.2%. Milk production was also slightly up, but is growing at a slower pace than in previous years.

Overall productivity continues to rise – less work being done to produce more. Since 2000, productivity has risen by 27%.

However, disparities persist: incomes are higher and less unstable in valley regions than in mountainous areas; while overall, not all farms are booming, with 39% of them recording a fall in profits this year.

The figures were published in the wake of two nationwide votes in September on the future of Swiss agriculture, one of which aimed to boost the fortunes of small farms, the other focused on ensuring ethical standards on all imported food. Both were rejected.

SDA-ATS/dos

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