In partnership with Kaufland Bulgaria, IFC has organized a program that supports local producers of fruit and vegetables in order to receive the most prestigious international certification of quality and food safety, GLOBALG.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices), the globally recognized certification scheme for safe and sustainable farming. This certificate allows farmers to improve their competitiveness, local sales and worldwide exports.

Mr. Ivajlo Maldjanski is one of the farmers who has benefited from the program. He started farming in 2004, concentrating on broccoli and green beans but slowly expanded to cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, iceberg salad, dill, watermelons and other vegetables.

“Being a farmer is an easy thing if you love what you do and you do it well. There is a lot of competition and it is getting more active every day. However, with quality you can easily beat the competition,” says Mr. Maldjanski.

The certification requires putting in place a management system that covers the following areas: traceability, pesticides and fertilizers, waste and pollution, hygiene, labor safety, water efficiency, biodiversity and soil conservation. IFC has partnered with GLOBALG.A.P. and delivers trainings and on-farm consultations to the growers from early spring until the certification audits during harvest.

“The advantages of certification for producers are substantial and include a more stable income, sustainable development of the business, including the possibility of exporting fruit and vegetables in any market in the world, improving natural resource management and finances, as well as improving product quality and standards of food safety,” explains Sarah Ockman, Global Lead, IFC Food Safety Advisory.

Moreover, qualification in accordance with GLOBALG.A.P. ensures that retailers take on all the certified products and improves the retention of the company producing fruit and vegetables.

Mr. Maldjanski initially had modest distribution channels at his disposal: “When I started growing, my focus was on a couple of industry producers and the fresh market.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /em>

It was tough for him to get into big retail chains and even contemplate exports. That has now changed thanks to the GLOBALG.A.P. Certificate he received recently, as a result of the joint program of IFC and Kaufland Bulgaria.

“It is an excellent program. I’ve been attending GLOBALG.A.P. trainings for some years now but I never had the courage to implement the certification myself,” says Mr. Maldjanski. “ Kaufland’s support was very important for me to certify my production. The retail chain supported me and also helped me realize that I am capable of getting the certification. Now, Kaufland is one of my key clients.”

Mr. Maldjanski is currently certified for broccoli production and plans to get certificates for his cabbage, cauliflower, iceberg and watermelons in 2017. He notes that the certificate also helps him with other distributors, who are taking him much more seriously now.

" The certificate and the program enable us to work with producers who have excellent production systems with clear processes. This leads to higher effectiveness,” explains Dimitar Spassov, Chair of the Board, Kaufland Bulgaria. “The certification allows growing with better quality and higher quantities. The tracking of the production is guaranteed. There are clearly defined and well established stages. All this helps us to provide fresh products with great quality, which is the most important aspect for our clients."

Mr. Maldjanski’s future is looking brighter and he recommends the program to other farmers in Bulgaria:

“I would recommend it and I am already doing so. I explain the process and elaborate on the fact that getting certified is not as complicated as it may seem. The benefits are remarkable. It helps you enhance your business and adds value to everything you have achieved. It seems like a difficult and bureaucratic process but in reality it is very logical and well structured.”