Organic Farming Summer School
n Organic Farming Summer School was jointly organized by FAEL Foundation and the Vocational School for Agriculture “Sergey Rumjantzev” (http://pgss-lukovit.eu) in the town of Lukovit. It was held on 17 – 22 July, 2016 and included a theoretical and practical part.
The theoretical part featured lectures and discussions which were held at the Rossitsa Hotel in the St. Constantine and Elena Resort, Varna on 17 – 20 July, 2016. The lecturers at the Organic Farming Summer School were the Managing Board of FAEL Foundation Prof. Dr. Dimitar Hadjinikolov http://hadjinikolov.pro/, chairman of the Managing Board of FAEL Foundation and Mr. Milan Kostadinov, organic farms certification consultant with Balkanbiocert OOD, Plovdiv, (http://balkanbiocert.com/bg/).The topics presented were:
· “History and Current State of Organic Farming in the EU and Bulgaria”, by Prof. Dr. Dimitar Hadjinikolov.
· “Requirements for Certification of Organic Horticulture Farms”, by Milan Kostadinov
· “Requirements for Certification of Organic Livestock Farms”, by Milan Kostadinov
· “The Organic Farm Business Plan and Funding” by Prof. Dr. Dimitar HadjinikolovThe practical part of the Summer School was held on 21 – 22 July, 2016 and included a visit to three organic farms in the region of Lovetch. Ms. Tatjana Stoicheva, member of the Managing Board of FAEL Foundation was responsible for the organization. Firstly, there was a visit to the organic farms of Ivan and Rossitsa Danchevi located in the village of Dobrodan. There was a short introduction about the history of the farm. Mr. Tjanko Hristov, a consultant at the Bioselena Foundation in the town of Karlovo (http://bioselena.com/), spoke about the extensive efforts of the farm in the village of Dobrodan to receive certification for organic raising of cows. Participants from the Vocational School for Agriculture “Sergey Rumjantzev” showed great interest in getting acquainted with the practical specifics of organic cattle farming and what makes it different from conventional cattle farming.
The Danchev Farm can also boast another important achievement: the implementation of energy efficient project which makes it possible to heat water for cleaning the milking system in order to avoid microbiological contamination of the milk. The system uses three energy sources – residual heat from cooling the warm milk, solar energy and an eco-pellets boiler. It is used only if the other two sources are not sufficient.
There was also a visit to the Ablanitsa Bio-Farm EOOD in the village of Ablanitsa. This enterprise uses the grazing method to raise chickens, hens, pigs, rabbits and calves. Its manager Ms. Gergana Petkova met the group of students and gave a talk about the ways different animals were raised and the problems faced in the implementation of organic farming. These problems, however, have not discouraged her and now her organic farm has significant achievements, see her website. (http://www.sunnyfarm.bg/).
The participants of the Summer School then visited the organic walnut garden of Miroslav Mirchev in the village of Dulbok Dol. He gave a talk about the specifics of organic methods of growing fruit trees, about fruit processing, and above all about the eco-friendly ways to fight tree diseases.
Finally, in the afternoon on 22 July, 2016 there was an official closing of the Organic Farming Summer School, at which were present representatives of FAEL Foundation and teachers from the Vocational School for Agriculture. Ten of its students were awarded certificates of attendance. They received congratulations from the head teacher of the Vocational School Ms. Rumjana Georgieva and from the Chairman of the Managing Body of FAEL Foundation, Prof. Dimitar Hadjinikolov.
National Round Table “Production and Marketing of Bulgarian Organic Products”
On 15 July, 2015, The Bulgarian Industrial Association in Sofia held a National Round Table on the production and marketing of Bulgarian organic products
The participants in the round table included the deputy-minister of Agriculture and foods Vassil Groudev, Dobrinka Pavlova – director of Directorate “Organic Agriculture and Plant Cultivation” at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Neli Vuleva – senior expert at the “Organic Agriculture and Plant Cultivation” directorate, prof. Hristina Yancheva, vice-rector of Agricultural University, Plovdiv, Albena Simeonova, co-chairwoman of the Bulgarian Organic Products Association, prof. Dimitar Hadjinikolov – chairman of FAEL Foundation. The moderator of the round table was Mr. Georgi Shivarov, deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Association.
The discussion focused on how to popularize the benefits of organic farming, provide assistance to organic farmers and the problems faced by farmers, suppliers and traders in organic products.
Deputy Minister Vassil Groudev said that organic production was a priority of the Ministry and that was reflected in the direct payments schemes as well as in the Rural Development Program 2014 – 2020 and the benefits which the sector obtains upon application. The budget for producing organic products is five times higher than the one during the previous program period – from €33 million it was increased to €152 million. For the first time there are plans for funding organic livestock breeding – measures are incorporated for pastoralism, preservation of endangered local breeds, biological livestock breeding, etc.
Albena Simeonova pointed out that the lack of an overall concept of organic agriculture development was a prerequisite for the insufficient interest in it. There is also insufficient information on the opportunities for providing assistance to organic production. According to Albena Simeonova it was necessary several ministries to work together in terms of the policies for promotion and development of organic farming. In this respect she made a proposition on behalf of the Bulgarian Organic Production Association a regulation to be introduced – 5% foods for children and pupils to be of organic origin, thus encouraging organic products.
In support of the thesis for participation of all interested institutions in the policy management for development of organic farming, Prof. Dr. Hristina Yanchava said that for the last two years the Agriculture University in Plovdiv had not been able to attract the required number of candidates to study for a degree in Organic Farming (Bachelor’s and Master’s). She suggested that the profession “Organic Farming” should be made regulated.
Prof. Dimitar Hadjinikolov drew special attention to the economic effect on developing organic farming. According to him we can now identify separate commodity niches such as organic textiles, organic pharmaceuticals, organic cosmetics, organic furniture, etc. Prof. Hadjinikolov believes that the key problem is the rising added value which remains in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, mainly unprocessed organic products are currently exported while the available readymade organic products are mainly imports. Furthermore, there is almost a lack of marketing studies and activities. Prof. Hadjinikolov underscored the need for a complex approach to organic production (see presentation below).