USD30MN EARMARKED FOR ORGANIC FARMING
Agricultural ministers from ten Central and East European countries and from the EU, deputy ministers and representatives of the European Commission and of the European Parliament, discussed measures for the development of agriculture and rural regions at the international conference EU Expansion - Sustainable Agriculture and Policy for Development of Agriculture Regions, held in Sofia this week. The big news for us from the forum was Bulgaria's intention to apply for gratuitous financing from the Global Ecology Fund by projects for biological production and processing of biological products. The financial assistance worth USD30MN is earmarked for three more countries - Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria. The proposal for including Bulgaria came from the Dutch foundation Avalon. Bulgaria is expected to approve a national programme for organic farming, under which four pilot projects will be approved. The requirement for safety foods is of extreme importance to the EU, the Netherlands' State Secretary of Agriculture Jan Odink underlined. A bilateral working programme for coordinating the joint efforts in that direction was signed between the agriculture ministries of Bulgaria and the Netherlans.Our country strictly observes the requirements of the EU for the development of agriculture in the rural regions and has been successfully implementing the SAPARD programme for a year and a half, PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said in his welcoming speech to the participants in the conference. The Premier added that 368,000 people in Bulgaria make their living by farming, and for another 1,000,000 agriculture is a means of additional income. The PM said also that the Government makes efforts for the development of modern farming and appealed for the production of organic agricultural products.According to the Agriculture Minister Mehmed Dikme, the main problems after the thirteen years of transition in Bulgaria are: the fragmentation into a great number of small farms, the bad condition of agricultural equipment, the aging population engaged in farming, the inadequate connections between agricultural producers and processors.Countries as ours should comply with the changes in the agriculture of European countries that are currently going on, and namely - the decrease of direct subsidies for a certain quantity of produced output, the Deputy Agriculture Minister Meglena Plugchieva said. These subsidies shall be redirected for the overall development of the rural regions.