EU Drought for Bulgaria's Organic Producers

By MILENA HRISTOVA   March 19, 2014

 

The winter of 1982. My mum is angry with me – a kid at that time – and wants to punish me harshly.

 

After nearly camping out in front of the grocery store to buy the overpriced luxury of the year – bananas – she comes up with the perfect punishment - no bananas, only home-grown unworthy apples.

 

There is no denying it - bananas were partly responsible for communist children being so unnaturally well behaved at times.

 

But now I miss the simple, delicious taste of the Bulgarian apples, their freshness and flavor. And don't care about bananas.

 

Strangely, we, today's Bulgarians like to appear complacent for no longer being an agriculture country.

 

This complacency, however, masks serious problems - arable land lying fallow, plots acquired for speculative purposes, often resold at higher price to wind farm developers.

 

In short – no interest in agriculture. As a result we put on our table tomatoes imported from Turkey, pears from China and onions from Egypt!

 

Organic farming is trying to give the sector's glorious past a new lease of life, but without the state and EU support, it can hardly turn into a sustainable business.

 

Worse than that, some of Bulgaria's organic producers, particularly those who laid the foundations of the sector five years ago, will be deprived of EU funding in 2014.

 

The news broke on Tuesday after the Agriculture Minister admitted Bulgaria is the only EU member state, which missed to make sure the transitional year 2014 will not put local organic producers at a disadvantage.

 

Now organic farmers fear even more bankruptcies.

 

A pure oversight by local authorities?

 

Hardly.

 

But don't they see grabbing the lowest-hanging fruit doesn't always pay off?