Thursday, September 12, 2013

Agriculture in Bulgaria

Prior to World War II, agriculture in Bulgaria was the leading sector in the Bulgarian economy. In 1939, agriculture contributed 65 percent of Net material product (NMP), and four out of every five Bulgarians were employed in agriculture. The importance and organization of Bulgarian agriculture changed drastically after the war, however. By 1958, the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) had collectivized a high percentage of Bulgarian farms; in the next three decades, the state used various forms of organization to improve productivity, but none succeeded. Meanwhile, private plots remained productive and often alleviated agricultural shortages during the Todor Zhivkov era.
There is a shortage of labor in Bulgarian agriculture that is developing at the moment. The average age of Bulgarian farmers in about 58 years. Only about 2.4 per cent of the recent university graduates have degrees in agronomy and veterinary sciences and etc.

Bulgaria enjoys excellent natural conditions for developing the agriculture and forestry sector. Cultivated agricultural land occupies about 4.9 million hectares or 44% of the total territory of the country. The favorable climate for crop production and the availability of agricultural land and long traditions have resulted in well-developed plant growing and animal breeding. Other advantages are the low labor costs and the high-schools and colleges offering training in modern farming and animal breeding. Foreigners cannot own land, but the Foreign Investment Law removed restrictions on the acquisition of land by locally registered companies with foreign participation. Among the main crops produced are tomatoes, pepper, tobacco, grapes, wheat, maize, beans, potato, sunflower, peaches, apricots, apples, melons, and nuts. There are traditions in the sheep, pig and cattle breeding, poultry farming, and bee-keeping.

Traditionally, Bulgaria has had a leading position in exports of grapes, oriental tobacco, tomatoes, apricots and other agricultural products to European markets.

Good opportunities in the sector exist for the creation of total production chains through a combination of selected companies in clusters covering primary sector, processing, sales and distribution. An important advantage of the sector is the presence of well-established food research and development institutions.

Within Bulgaria a special EU support program (SAPARD), provides for a 50% investment subsidy for investment projects in agriculture.

Bulgarian agriculture is one of the hottest investment sectors in Bulgaria! During the next 5-10 years massive growth is expected. The reasons are very simple and outlined below with a simple comparison example!