10% of Fruit, Vegetables Consumed in Bulgaria Are Produced Locally
Only 10% of the fruit and vegetables consumed in Bulgaria are locally produced, with the remainder being imported, according to Slavi Trifonov, Chair of the National Union of Gardeners.
Trifonov announced at a press conference Wednesday that Bulgaria lacked fresh produce harvested within 48 hours of sale, adding that imported fruit and vegetables had been processed with chemicals to make them more durable.
Trifonov, as cited by dir.bg, made clear that he sector was in a critical state, adding that around 200 000 people were directly and indirectly involved in agricultural production.
He claimed that some 20-25% of the total of 1.5 million who had left Bulgaria to work overseas were involved in gardening, adding that the country had to find a way to attract these workers back home from Spain, Italy, Greece, and the United Kingdom.
Trifonov noted that a greater presence of locally produced fruit and vegetables would boost employment among low-skilled workers.
He pointed out that the area used to produce fruit and vegetables had decreased by 6-10 times for some crops in the period 1998-2013.
He also explained that 70-80% of the fruit and vegetable needs of Bulgarian citizens and processing companies were covered by imports, mostly from third countries.
Industry representatives demanded greater transparency in the sector, claiming that the grey sector currently had a share of around 85%.
They insisted that the existing practice of regular inspections at customs offices and commodity exchanges would not help curb illegal sales and called for introducing obligatory VAT registration of agricultural producers and traders in agricultural produce and a reduction of the VAT rate for them in order to lower food prices.
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