On the 7th of July 2020 the Bulgarian Steering Group had an online meeting to discuss the umbrella concept, the Bulgarian toolkits to support new entrants in agriculture, results of the NEWBIE award contest and the topics of the next discussion circle. The members were also updated about the NEWBIE activities and outputs of the first half of 2020; the Bulgarian practice abstracts written so far, the discussion circle on digitalization in agriculture held in June and new entrants’ videos.
All the members of the National Steering Group took part in the voting to select the Bulgarian NEWBIE innovative new entrant of the year among the three finalists:
Dimitar Kukundjiev, Yagodina dairy cattle and sheep farm in the Rhodope Mountain. His family boasts the quality of their white and yellow cheese, yogurt and dairy products made in their own mini dairy. Recently, Dimitar has applied a profitable marketing approach – cooperation with an organic jam workshop and Hotel Mursal to sell together dairy and jam products to local and international tourists. The dairy products yellow and white cheese (breaded or baked) are combined with organic jam of wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or yogurt with organic jam, which is a great combo. Tourists who enjoy the delicious food can buy Dimitar’s products either in the restaurant or from their home.
Petar Petrov, Bozhenski Chiflik dairy cattle and sheep farm (located in Sabotkovtsi village, Gabrovo region) introduced a mini dairy to process its own milk into yoghurt, white and yellow cheese, butter and pasteurized milk and rural tourism service. Guests can enjoy the delicious products of the farm in 2 guest houses. The selection of products include the vegetables from two small greenhouses, milk and meat products of cow, sheep chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc. and activities such as milking, collecting eggs, feeding calves, etc. Children and young people get acquainted with rural life and culture, which is a source of income for the farm, but also creates potential customers for the products.
Zahari Belichenov, fish farm, Razlog – Together with two partners Zahari combines the production of delicious fish – trout, salmon trout and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)- with a capacity of 150 tons per year and a workshop for primary processing. Additionally, they own a small restaurant that attracts more and more local customers from the region and Bulgarian and foreign tourists from Bansko resort nearby. The clients in the restaurant enjoy the clean environment in which the fish are raised among the beautiful nature of Pirin Mountain and often want to buy some to take home.
The choice between the three finalists was very difficult, as each of them has specific achievements and all deserve the award, yet Dimitar Kukundjiev won the most votes and the members of the NSG confirmed his announcement as an innovative BG NEWBIE of 2019.
Regarding the Bulgarian toolkits that can be used to support new entrants, the group discussed the possibilities, the umbrella concept and the keywords and topics. The NAAS website can be used as a Bulgarian toolkit. Business Incubator-Gotse Delchev suggested as a Bulgarian toolkit to make short videos with Vasil Ralchev, 22 years old organic farmer of essential oils and fruits and vegetables on specific topics such as: Access to Labour and Team; Export to European markets, Marketing and advertising and e- commerce; Business Strategy and Planning; Successful Business Model; Practical Education; Entrepreneurship. The idea came to the team while recording footages and making his video for YouTube NEWBIE channel as the experience he shared in videos could on inspire other people for agriculture.
The NSG discussed and decided that the topic for the next discussion circle would be Innovative and Practical Vocational and Higher Education in Agriculture and to involve vocational high schools, universities and other stakeholders. It is appropriate to hold the DC in September-October, if it is possible to do so.