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January 18, 2018

Speech by the Bulgaria’s Minister for Agriculture H.E. Rumen Porodzanov - International Green Week Opening Ceremony on 18 January 2018 at 6 p.m.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

DEAR GUESTS,

To begin with let me congratulate our German hosts on the occasion of the International Green Week, which brings us together in yet another year in Berlin as we celebrate both tradition and the future of the farming and food industries. This trade fair draws particular attention to renewable raw materials, organic farming, horticulture and future development in rural areas and also gives us the chance to enjoy the traditional flavours of the entire world. Also taking place at the fair is the next Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, an event of great importance for political figures and representatives of business alike.

On 1 January 2018, 11 years after its accession to the European Union, for the first time the Republic of Bulgaria took its turn to assume the presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. It is an honour for our country as well as a great responsibility. Adding to this honour and responsibility is the fact that after many years of exhibiting at the International Green Week our country has become the partner country of the 83rd edition of the fair.

Some of the guests and participants in the Green Week are representatives of EU member countries, while others are waiting to join. Representatives of trade unions of commerce and business are also here. Overall, the fair is a forum that has gathered many countries from around the world. It is my opinion that each of the countries taking part can contribute to and benefit from this forum and that we should make use of this opportunity.

Values such as security, stability and solidarity have always been a priority for the Republic of Bulgaria, both at European and global level, particularly in the context of the challenges we currently face, and for many of you who are in the farming and food industries they are of great importance. I am confident that for each individual country and subject it is very important to find and respond to common solutions at both regional and global level.

The countries taking part in the Green Week are long-established in farming, food production and horticulture. For some of them the farming economy benefits from a favourable climate and their geographical location. Others make use of the latest scientific findings for farming by natural methods.

Modern agriculture is based on modern systems, technology, innovations, research and development of ecological production. The main objective is to create a sustainable industry that balances environmental protection, economic growth and social responsibility. One particularly important goal is to develop and improve regional and global ties between nations, to exchange experiences and proven practices.

The International Green Week offers us precisely this opportunity to exchange experiences and information and to work together to achieve competitive and sustainable food and farming industries.

For us the Green Week 2018 represents a shining example of the achievements of Bulgaria’s farming and food industries.

The farming industry occupies a special place in Bulgarian society and the economy. Bulgaria’s fertile soil and its excellent climate and geographical location are instrumental to this sector’s development, including organic farming. The traditional methods used for production of wheat, fruit, vegetables and raising livestock are the main factors in this process.

The farming sector employs around 7 per cent of the population and accounts for approximately 5 per cent of gross value added (GVA). It will continue to maintain its important role in the future, particularly where strengthening the rural economy is concerned. Farming will remain an important source of income for a large part of the population and be the common link between people and the environment.

The macro-economic statistics for Bulgaria’s farming industry are stable. BVA is on the increase, as are company revenues and investment in the modernisation of farming enterprises; food and animal feed safety goals have been reached, as well as for animal protection and the introduction of new technologies and innovations, etc.

The farming and processing industries are capable of producing quality products offering substantial added value which meet the wide-ranging and growing demands of consumers in Europe and other global markets. Every year, the retail and export of agricultural products increases by around 14 and 17 per cent respectively of the country’s overall output.

For years the farming sector has recorded a positive foreign trade balance. This shows that it is a thriving industry capable of accelerating growth and achieving important social and economic goals.

Covering one-third of the country’s surface area (4.2 million hectares), Bulgaria’s woodlands represent a valuable resource with among the best prospects in Europe. There are close to 150 different tree species and centuries-old plantations which make up more than 10 per cent of woodland areas. 56 per cent of the country’s woodlands have been designated part of NATURA 2000, Europe’s ecological network of protected areas for maintaining natural habitats. Bulgaria supports global trends in promoting sustainable management systems in order to establish a balance between wood production and maintaining all other life-sustaining functions in its woodlands.

One Bulgarian food product that is well known around the world is Bulgarian yoghurt. Traditional products also include Kashkaval made from white and yellow cheeses. Cheeses are the main export, with export business accounting for 86 to 90 per cent of total foreign trade. The traditional production methods and excellent flavour of Bulgarian white and yellow cheeses made from cow’s and sheep’s milk make them sought-after products on both the home and foreign markets, which is why exports are increasing every year. During the first ten months of 2017 Bulgaria’s dairy industry processed 523 million litres of milk, which represented an 11.3 per cent increase over the same period in 2016.

Bulgaria has a long-established wine industry, the country being one of the world’s oldest wine regions. The main grape varieties used in white wine production are Savagnin, Sauvignon blanc and Moscatel, among others. Among the red wine varieties preferred by Bulgarian winegrowers are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mavrud, Syrah and Kadarka. Bulgarian wines have won hundreds of medals at international wine competitions and championships and take part in international exhibitions and forums. It is no coincidence that Bulgarian wine producers have been increasingly successful at selling their products on the international market. In recent years Bulgarian wine exports have risen and the country’s wines have made successful inroads into international markets such as Brazil, Azerbaijan, Japan, China, Poland, Sweden and Russia, to name but a few.

The diversity of flora in Bulgaria as well as a favourable natural environment and climate encourage honey production in a country with a long-established beekeeping industry which produces mainly acacia honey, honeydew and mixed flower honey. Total annual output is around 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes of honey, of which some 60 to 80 per cent is exported. Honey is one of Bulgaria’s most popular exports.

Cattle production also represents an important sector in the Republic of Bulgaria’s farming industry and great attention is paid to its development. Pig and poultry production are two sectors which have been restructured in a successful bid to consolidate the farming industry, thus ensuring greater efficiency and economic stability. State-of-the-art methods are used for feeding and rearing livestock as well as for selection. During the first nine months of 2017 industrial production of red meat rose by 6.6 per cent, equivalent to almost 58,000 tonnes of slaughtered animals and a 6.6 per cent increase over the previous year. These figures include 51,000 tonnes of pork, five per cent more than during the same period in 2016. Poultry production is one of the most important livestock sectors and mechanisation and automation processes are widespread, ensuring highly efficient industrial output. In that context poultry production grew by 3.4 per cent in 2016 compared to the previous year, as did egg production (a 3.5 per cent increase over the same period).

Bulgaria has a long-established tradition of pork production with a variety of flavours, and the respective methods and recipes have been handed down throughout the ages. Delicacies include Gornooryachovski sudzhuk (a flat dried sausage resembling salami) Filet Elena, Panagyuristhe dried sausage, pork neck with a special spicy dressing from Thrace, Trapesitsa pig rolls, beef jerky, all listed in the European Register of traditional specialities with protected designations of origin.

The favourable natural environment, climate and soil in Bulgaria are the reason for its wide variety of plants in farming production. We are well known for our traditional ways of producing wheat, fruit, vegetables, grapes and oleaginous plants. Our high output of quality, sweet-smelling medicinal herbs also deserves a mention. According to the relevant statistics the 2017 wheat harvest was approximately 5.8 million tonnes, an increase of around 8 per cent over the previous year. Production of sunflower oil and corn maize rose to 1.8 million tonnes (an 8 per cent increase) and to 2.3 million tonnes (a 4 per cent increase) respectively.

Bulgaria is also well known for its good-tasting fruit and vegetables. The Bulgarian pink tomato, an unrivalled and authentic product, is just one example. Apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries and raspberries make up the lion’s share of overall fruit production.

The fishing industry plays an important role in agriculture and the economy of the Republic of Bulgaria. Fish from the Black Sea are known to taste very good. In recent years medium-term developments in sea fishing have made this industry more competitive. Bulgaria is Europe’s leading exporter of veined rapa whelk to countries in eastern Asia. The Danube also boasts a wide variety of species. Quality management of fish stocks is a guarantee of sustainable growth in Bulgaria’s fishing industry.

Bulgaria’s traditional methods for producing fragrant oleaginous plants are well known. One of our country’s emblems is an oleaginous rose. The rose oil extracted is an essential ingredient for some world-famous manufacturers of perfumes and cosmetics. The outstanding properties of Bulgarian rose and lavender oil make these products among the most sought-after by industries around the globe and Bulgaria one of the world’s leading producers.

Visitors to the hall featuring Bulgarian displays can find out about Bulgarian culture and our way of life, as well as traditional local cuisine to the accompaniment of folk performances. The display hall features fruit, vegetables, yoghurt, various cheeses and meat products, some of which are listed in the European Register of traditional specialities with protected designations of origin, as well as wines, fruit juices and products based on essential oils and herbs, to name a few. The entire selection has been expertly put together by famous Bulgarian brands.

As the partner country we invite you to sample the ’Flavour of the Sun’. Taking this as our slogan we welcome visitors to the International Green Week in Berlin to the hall featuring Bulgarian displays. The ’Flavour of the Sun’ is synonymous with the rose that is our country’s emblem. Bulgaria is famous for its majestic mountains, its gorgeous Black Sea and its culinary temptations and tasty cuisine.

All the products I have listed and many other traditional Bulgarian products can be sampled in Hall 10.2 where Bulgaria is represented as the partner country of the Green Week 2018. You are welcome to marvel at traditional Bulgarian folk performances and handicrafts, enjoy the sweet smell of roses and traditional Bulgarian flavours.