Traditional food productions
For the municipality of Rakovski it can be said with regret that today the traditional manufacturing processes and craft foods are disappearing. There are very few small workshops and small industries, where the aim is quality and salubrity of food instead of quantity and low cost. Food industry, as already noted in the preceding paragraphs of this study, is well developed in the municipality of Rakovski, but it is concentrated in medium and large enterprises where production technologies are advanced, employing processes and ingredients used by world-known food brands and chains. This type of industry contributes to fast, easy and low-cost food production, but the questions about how much this food is really healthy remain. Today more and more often is discussed the topic of the real price that people pay with the consumption of industrially produced foods. The widely used preservatives, chemical additives and derivatives of petroleum products in the food industry are analysed and for a number of them is proven that they are carcinogenic, while the ‘real’ food appears to remain inaccessible even in rural areas, like the municipality of Rakovski. Inaccessibility comes mainly from the lack of government support, extremely high administrative pressure of state institutions for compliance with standards, which in most cases are not applicable to the manufacturing of craft products, the relatively high cost of such products and last but not least the limited quantity that can be produced in this type of production. Some very small craft food manufacturers are forced to work under extremely difficult conditions and competition.
Although few in number, in the municipality of Rakovski still exist small industries for food products that are close to the craft foods of the Rhodopes and Gotse Delchev, and the team conducting the study was able to identify and record them. For the purpose of the study, here are presented only some of the visited workshops for agri-food products that are typical and representative of the whole sector.
APICULTURAL FARM “BAKARDZHIISKI”
The apicultural farm was established by Ivan Bakardzhiiski and the whole family is involved in beekeeping and work on the production of honey. They keep about 170-180 beehives. Separately the family manages an orchard, a field of grain crops and home grown pigs. The apicultural farm produces annually about one ton of honey, also royal jelly and other bee products, and creates bee colonies. The farm is supported under the Rural Development Programme with direct subsidies for each colony. The farm has created its own label, which is put on the jars of honey. The honey of the Bakardzhiiski family is known and desired in the area of Rakovski municipality. In the Annex to the study are shown photos of the apicultural farm and talks with Ivan Bakardzhiiski in working environment.
It is hard not to smile when seeing the full of life and energetic owner of a farm for yogurt “Vanevi”. Proud of what he has achieved with hard work and overcoming countless difficulties, Todor Vanev passionately tells us how he managed to create from scratch a farm where to produce genuine Bulgarian yoghurt. And this is really an achievement for the dairy sector. Todor’s yogurt is made of 100% fresh cow milk, without any chemical or other additives, with starter culture containing Bulgarian bacterium and without prior extraction of the butter from the milk. The achieved is really impressive, given the huge competition in the sector, the high cost of legalization and putting into operation of a dairy farm for cow milk. The truth is that since long ago ‘real’ yogurt has been missing from the Bulgarian stores. Technological processes used in standard dairy farms for processing cow milk exclude making yogurt from cow milk only. Todor Vanev admits with pain that many of his fellow citizens and acquaintances thought him crazy when he started to realize his dream. Today he can boast that his yogurt is bought like hot cakes and he even fails to meet the demand.
Todor Vanev is only 30 years old and is among the youngest farmers in the area of Rakovski municipality. He started 10 years ago with two cows thanks to his grandmother Velichka and grandfather Todor, after whom he is named, and now he cares for 150 heads of cattle. His dairy farm has 60 milking cows and 40 heifers bred of own offspring. One of the animals on the farm was awarded third place for the most beautiful animal at the Second National Exhibition in Cattle Breeding in Sliven, where the ranking was announced by an independent arbitrator from Germany. For the production of yogurt he uses only milk that is produced in his own farm.
“I have been with the cattle since very young and I like to take care of them,” says Todor and adds that ten years ago he eagerly anticipated the end of his military service in order to engage seriously in livestock breeding. Everything he knows about the business, he owes to his grandmother and grandfather. So Todor continues the family tradition, but on new, larger scale – he takes loan after loan, buys new equipment, renovates and expands the cowsheds, equips them with modern milking station, maintains the hygiene and the quality of milk that comes from his farm. He buys milk vending machines and installs them in Plovdiv and in his home village Stryama; he owns refrigerated van equipped for mobile milk vending. He owns a certificate from the Food Agency and his farm is first category – he has the right to sell his production; he has a contract with a dairy in the village of Manole to buy his raw material, but he does his best to sell his milk alone, because he is sure of its quality, and dairies on the one hand often dilute milk with other impurities and on the other hand offer degradingly low purchase price.
There are several farmers with more livestock heads in the village of Stryama, like Dian Dimov, Vasil Panov and Vitali, but Todor is the youngest. He constantly keeps himself informed on the new developments in the sector and opportunities for applying with projects. Therefore he managed to get approved a project under Measure 121 for modernization of agricultural holdings and purchased a new tractor and manure spreading trailer. The investment is for BGN 170 thousand, of which BGN 86 thousand is EU funding.
“It is impossible to buy new equipment without this support,” says Todor and hopes that one day the created by him will be continued by his children. He gets a subsidy of BGN 240 per head and hopes that the government will change its policy for the dairy sector with the approaching end of the quotas for milk production, which, he predicts, will lead the sector in Bulgaria to complete collapse.
“Farming is a thankless and hard work, but when you do it with heart and know your job, it is easier.” He is grateful to his father, who is with him and takes care of the land. Currently it is 700 decares but Todor’s ambition is to make it 1000 decares.
FARMER MILKO BUROV
The main activity of Milko Burov is production of milk. He has been involved in it for years; registered as a farmer for the first time in 2000. He started breeding a small number of cattle and over the years it increased. At present he has 68 milking cows, 21 calves and buffalo-calves to 1 year of age, 1 calf over 1 year and under 2 years, 3 bulls and 14 calves and buffalo-calves over 1 year of age for breeding purposes. Thus the total number of livestock is 107. The main breed is Red Danish. Livestock on the farm is controlled by herd reproductivity.
Like every beginning, the farmer went through many ups and downs, until the idea of what a modern farm should look like became clear. Thanks to his creativity and ambition to make it during this period, the owner proved to be one of the largest livestock farmers in the town of Rakovski and Rakovski Municipality. He breeds dairy cattle to produce cow milk, of which currently there is a shortage on the market in terms of high quality raw milk, to meet the capacity of the dairy industry. Most of the milk – about 100% is sold the dairy factories of the company Mlechni Produkti OOD (“Milk Products”) – Plovdiv.
He cultivates both farm land on lease and his own land in the neighbourhood of the town of Rakovski for production of feed for his dairy farm. The produced feeds are used entirely for the farm’s own needs – for feeding the animals. Cultivated land and existing livestock form the economic size of the farm – it is above the minimum size required to apply under the Rural Development Programme under the measure for dairy cattle. The total cultivated land declared in IACS is 635,210 decares, of which 121,980 decares of wheat, 86,500 decares of barley, 52,300 decares of triticale, 45,200 decares of rye, 67,210 decares of alfalfa, 262,02 decares of natural meadows.
FARMER SVETOSLAV BALABANSKI
Svetoslav Balabanski is an example of a young and ambitious farmer. He started with the support of his father, who for a long time granted his own land on lease and later decided to start to cultivate it on their own. At present they manage 100 decares planted mainly with pumpkins, vegetables and corn. Last year the production of pumpkins was highly appreciated by citizens and resellers of agricultural produce; a bakery was also among the satisfied customers. For the time being, he has no ambition to process the produce. He relies on support from the Rural Development Programme, which provides him with direct subsidies, and hopes to modernize his production with the support of an approved project by LAG Rakovski.
A new point in development is the new cherry orchard. He is proud with the planted about 50 young trees and hopes that within a year or two he will collect his first harvest.
FARMER ELENA AYANSKA
Elena Ayanska is another example of a young Bulgarian farmer – last year funded under the Rural Development Programme, measure Young Farmers. This year she signed a contract with LAG Rakovski for funding of a project for the purchase of specialized agricultural machinery and development of a drip irrigation system.
Elena and her family manage 60 decares, of which 35 – planted with walnuts and 10 – with plums. Elena’s great pride is the strawberry production, which traditionally is very laborious and capricious, and furthermore difficult to sell on the market due the influx of import from Greece. Elena also produces honey and hopes to extend the varieties of fruit trees, although she acknowledges with pain that each year calculating the profit and their own investment makes them hesitant to continue. On the background of the difficult to access market where the price dictates and not the quality, and the exhausting labour invested in agricultural production, Elena told us about the obstacles that state institutions artificially impose with the numerous documents and requirements, long wait of approvals unfair state employees who inspect on site and even impose financial sanctions arising from technical errors of SFA employees without a chance of pleading innocence or getting due payment after identifying the real culprits.
The aligned and clean rows with strawberries and the courage and hard work of Elena’s family please the eye and the soul. Her membership as a farmer in a network of producers, restaurateurs and retailers is a chance for her and her produce to be promoted and appreciated.
ANGELINA EOOD – PRODUCTION AND SALE OF UNPROCESSED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE
The main activity of ANGELINA EOOD is the production of unprocessed agricultural produce. The leased and rented farmlands by the company are located in area of the town of Rakovski. The sole shareholder of the company is Peter Iossifov Indzhov who is also the manager. The land cultivated by the company for 2011/2012 was 909.600 decares. The farmer has focused his interests mainly on the production of grains and oil plants. ANGELINA EOOD, Rakovski was registered as a farmer for the first time in 2011. As main activity is specified agricultural land cultivation and production agricultural produce. The main products of Angelina EOOD are wheat, sunflower, barley and rapeseed.
ST “BOYKO SHOPOV” – PRODUCTION AND SALE OF UNPROCESSED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE
The main activity of ST “Boyko Shopov” is cultivation of agricultural land and production of agricultural produce. The areas currently cultivated by the company are more than 6 500,000 decares. The output is diverse as the areas are sown with wheat, barley, corn, rapeseed, sunflower, alfalfa, apples and plums. ST “Boyko Shpov” has been involved in farming since the end of 1995 and was registered as a farmer in 2003. ST “Boyko Shopov” has two approved and implemented projects under the SAPARD Programme for the purchase of specialized agricultural equipment “Bolgar TC 80 P “and development of plantations of plums – 70 decares and apples – 30 decares with drip irrigation of the whole area, as well as a project in 2009 under the Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 for the purchase of specialized agricultural equipment.
CONFECTIONARY SHOP “NADEZHDA INN” EOOD
Nadia Chonkova has been manager of confectionery shop “Nadezhda Inn” EOOD for more than 10 years during which the struggle for establishing confectionery products on the market, ensuring the most suitable production conditions and finding funds for stable company operations are continuous. The confectionery shop is again a family project, coming once again to prove the good results that joint efforts bring. Immediately after the family came back from Germany, where they worked in restaurants and kitchens, they decided to open their own confectionary workshop. At present the confectionery shop produces more than 100 kinds of cakes, cookies and pastries, and at the premises where the sweet temptations are made work 7 nice ladies alongside with Nadia. A new workshop is in the process of putting into operation where under better conditions, with better equipment (purchased with the financial support of the Rural Development Programme and LAG Rakovski) and more space, the making of cakes and sweets will continue.
Confectionery is a vocation that wants one’s heart and soul in what is done. Looking at the beautiful cakes and undoubtedly after tasting some of Nadia’s sweet temptations, the teams of FDCBPCS and LAG Rakovski are convinced of this. The difficulties that the confectionery shop faces occur on a daily basis, but they only contribute to strengthen the will and determination in wanting to offer their sweet marvels to both young and old in the region of Rakovski, and not only there. Recently the company offers its products at a stall at Kaufland in Plovdiv, and proposals for opening new outlets are hailing from other parts of the country which is a logical development when one works with passion and heart.
AGRINDO EOOD – PRODUCTION OF GRAIN CROPS – RICE, WHEAT AND SUNFLOWER
Agrindo EOOD was founded by Mrs. Tanya Pachova in June 2002. She is the owner and manager of the company. Initially, the company was engaged in trading and processing of rice after purchasing equipment from Indonesia. The initial capacity was 2,5 tons per hour. Later Agrindo EOOD improved its product line by purchasing equipment from Zaccaria Brazil and increased its capacity to 16 mt/h. Moreover, the company began distribution of its products on the local market, in the local chain stores and export of rice to Turkey, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Albania. An integral part of Agrindo EOOD is the continuous growth and expansion of ideas and experience through which the company remains competitive on the market. The aim has always been to provide high quality rice at competitive prices, different varieties of rice with high quality, fully certified in the EU and the non-EU markets. After the accession to the EU, the aspiration is to meet the business needs of the customers in order to achieve higher economic growth. In the future, the company hopes to find opportunities for export of agricultural and food products to Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Summarized information and a list of existing manufacturing processes and workshops for processing and sale of agricultural and food products in the municipality of Rakovski (without claiming to be exhaustive) can be found at the end of the full version of the study – Appendix 2 (see web page “Achieved results”).