Importing workers from abroad may be the way to save Bulgaria’s agriculture
In a position statement, the National Association of Young Farmers in Bulgaria draws attention to the problems in the sector, laying emphasis on the fact that recovery after the crisis will likely take years and that that is why cooperation with the state and with businesses is so important.
“And the worst part of it is that it is still impossible to say what problems we shall be facing,” says Petar Petrov, chairman of the board of the National Association of Young Farmers. “And as financial flows have been disrupted, it is very difficult for farmers, especially young farmers, to be sure they will be able to sell their produce and be able to pay their electricity and water bills, the salaries and social insurance instalments of their workers. It is true that revenues from subsidies are expected at the end of the month, but that is no solution. It would be wrong for a sector to support itself from subsidies, it should be able to stand on its own two feet.”
In his farm in the village of Subotkovtsi near Gabrovo, Petar Petrov keeps cows and sheep for dairy products. Before the pandemic he sold his produce to four stores, now he distributes it among fifteen. The price he has to pay – waste of time. “I shouldn’t complain because there are colleagues who are in a much worse position,” he adds.
Shortage of workers is a major challenge farmers face.
“I do not believe workers are to be found in the country anymore, who would want to engage in work with livestock and farming,” Petar Petrov says. “The only solution is to import workers,or for school goers to come here as part of their training or for green schools so as to get them interested in the profession. But that is a question of long-term policy which farmers cannot develop individually. It is up to the state to rethink its vision.”
Another problem producers face are the low purchase prices. Petar Petrov is skeptical that his colleagues, especially in fruit and vegetable growing, will get a fair price for their produce.