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Day for Organic Farming in the Eastern Rhodopes

On 9 September, the model organic farm in the village of Topolovo, Madzharovo municipality, which is supported by the Bulgarian-Dutch project "The New Thracian Gold", gathered together farmers, processors and the local community of the Eastern Rhodopes region..

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to Bulgaria Mr. Karel van Kesteren was a special guest to the event. Assoc. prof. Vladislav Popov, coordinator of component organic agriculture  together with the deputy governor of Haskovo and the mayor of Madzharovo opened the event officially.

Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, municipal and regional offices "Agriculture" in Haskovo and Kardzhali and Regional Agriculture Advisory Services also were present there. Among the guests were Judith Jobse – lecturer at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands and Jael Sluis, Dutch student who works on research on the recently reintroduced in the Eastern Rhodopes Tarpans (wild horses).

The guests were welcomed with traditional Bulgarian pita bread. Participants and guests tasted agricultural products from Eastern Rhodopes, like wine, grapes, watermelon, apples.

The event was organised for the second time in a row. The First Day of organic farming in the Eastern Rhodopes which took place in October 2010. The Day aims to promote the production and consumption of organic food. "The New Thracian Gold" project relies on the social impact that the Day creates to unite local communities in the region.

More than 180 people have been trained in organic farming within "The New Thracian Gold" project at nine training events. Three manuals on organic agriculture principles and practices, organic herb production and organic plant protection have been published within the project and have enjoyed great success among organic producers. Seventeen farmers and processors were financially supported by the project through a scheme that covers 50% of their organic certification costs for 2011 and gives them an opportunity to apply for measures 121 and 123 of the Rural Development Plan.

In 2009, "The New Thracian Gold" project began with seven certified producers. There are currently over 37 producers who are certified or are in transition and three processors, controlled by certification bodies. This network of farmers is regularly informed about new developments and requirements in organic production, consulted individually by organic farming experts in the project and receive regular marketing support.

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