EUR2MN PLANNED TO FINANCE RURAL AREAS
EUR286MN a year, or a total amount of EUR2BN, will be spent on development of Bulgaria's agricultural regions between 2007 and 2013, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Nihat Kabil said during the 50th AGRA exhibition in Plovdiv. The figures are stipulated by the national strategy for development of the agricultural areas. Just 5,500 farms in the country, or fewer than 1%, are big ones, 7% are mid-sized, and the biggest number are small. They are about 615,300 and occupy average agricultural areas of 6.9 dka.
The process of cooperation among agricultural producers, processors and scientific institutes needs to be encouraged in order to facilitate the introduction of new technologies, experts from the Ministry explain. The strategy aims at developing the domestic market of biological products and providing that 8% of the land under cultivation be run through the methods of biological production by 2013. Scientific research in the field of bioagriculture is expected to be directed towards practice, while a stress will be put on education, training and consulting in this field as of 2010.
Investments in the restructuring of agricultural and wood land will amount to 41% of the total budget of the strategy. Thirty per cent of the money will be put in opening jobs and improving the infrastructure and services. The protection of environment and the firm management of the land will be financed by 25% and 2.5% of the assistance will go for municipalities and their participation in rural areas.
Three hundred and ten Bulgarian companies and 452 foreign ones took part in the AGRA exhibition. Stands were put not only in the halls of the Plovdiv Fair, but also in the open. The biggest number of participating companies - 93, came from Italy, followed by Germany (71), France (46), Greece (34), Netherlands (30), and Turkey (23). Innovations were demonstrated in plant-growing, select seeds and planting material, as well as in the machine sector, stock-breeding and veterinary medicine, agrochemicals and scientific achievements. The business agenda stressed on discussions about the perspectives and priorities in the development of agriculture in Bulgaria in the process of EU accession.
In the meantime, it became clear that the disciplinary council at the agricultural ministry decided to warn Erman Zankov, head of the Fishery and Aquacultures Executive Agency, for the last time before firing him. However, I expect Zankov to hand in his resignation, Minister Kabil said.
Recently, the parliamentary commission for fighting corruption sent materials to the Sofia City Prosecutors' Office which it said raised suspicions that Zankov had drained state funds. The issue refers to the reports from two inspections of the Fishery and Aquacultures Executive Agency carried out by the inspectorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2004 and 2005. The inspections were ordered by the former agricultural minister in the cabinet of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Mehmed Dikme, and later by his successor Nihat Kabil. The violations found out in the first report were not corrected. The second inspection determined that the misuses even increased.