8 Per Cent of Arable Agricultural Land to Be Farmed Organically by 2013

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Eight per cent of the arable agricultural land in Bulgaria will be managed according to organic farming principles by 2013, under one of the five key objectives of a Strategic Plan for Development of Organic Farming in the 2007-2013 Period that the Cabinet adopted on Thursday, BTA reported.

The other key objectives are development of the market for organic products, creation of an effective regulatory framework for development of organic farming, pursuit of practice-oriented scientific research, eductaion, training and consulting in organic farming and establishment of an effective control and certification system, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Nihat Kabil told a news conference at the Council of Ministers .

Over 150 entities in Bulgaria now produce organic products, 23 process them and eight trade in them, Kabil said. Over 3,060 hectares of land are certified for organic plant growing. More than 110,000 hectares are certified for harvesting of wild herbs and berries, mainly for export. A total of 329 heads of cattle, 1,054 sheep, 113 goats, and 708 bee families are raised organically. Their produce is sold mainly in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France.

Some 280 million euro from all sources are to be invested in development of agroecology and organic farming until 2013, said Vyara Stefanova, Head of the Agroecology Division at the Rural Development Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Two companies have been certified so far to control organic products, and a certification procedure for another two is in progress, Kabil said. In his opinion, producers themselves should be interested in obtaining certification and in sustained control of their organic products because they will be selling at several fold higher prices. The Minister noted that not all products labelled "eco products" are organic and that to qualify they must go through a series of tests and certifications.

"Bulgaria has yet to appear on the organic farming map," Kabil added. He said that most of the territory of Bulgaria is certifiable for organic farming.

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