A food safety certification has opened up new markets for Bulgarian farmer Ivajlo Maldjanski © Kaufland Bulgaria
Ivajlo Maldjanski, a farmer in Bulgaria, started a modest business in 2004 selling broccoli and green beans. Over time his offerings have expanded to include cauliflower, cabbage, watermelon, and other fruits and vegetables. At first, his distribution channels were limited: “My focus was a couple of industry producers and the fresh market,” he says.
But after Maldjanski acquired certification from GLOBALG.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices), additional distribution channels opened to him—and business is thriving.
The program was created out of a partnership between IFC and retail chain Kaufland Bulgaria to help local fruit and vegetable producers like Maldjanski adopt safe and sustainable farming practices. Farmers that demonstrate their commitment can then receive a prestigious quality and food safety certification that is recognized globally and allows them to access new markets. Now, with the certification, Maldjanski can work with bigger retail chains.
IFC partnered with GLOBALG.A.P. in 2012 to build the capacity of the agricultural sector in a number of Eastern European countries. As a result, more than 250 professional consultants and farmers from more than 130 companies have been trained in Bulgaria, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan since the program was founded. Eleven workshops for farmers in the fruit and vegetable sector were held in 2015 and 2016, and more are planned for the future.
IFC joined forces with Kaufland in 2016 to encourage more farmers to obtain GLOBALG.A.P. The certification covers areas such as traceability, pesticides and fertilizers, waste and pollution, hygiene, labor safety, water efficiency, biodiversity, and soil conservation. Together, IFC and Kaufland partnered with GLOBALG.A.P. to deliver trainings and farm consultations to the growers from early spring until the certification audits during harvest. After encouraging results in Bulgaria, the program has now been expanded to Romania.
Becoming certified has many advantages for food producers—especially the potential for a more stable income. Other benefits include sustainable development of their businesses, including the possibility of exporting fresh products, improving natural resource management, and improving product quality as well as food safety standards.
Carrying certified products appeals to retailers as well.
"The certificate and the program enable us to work with producers that have excellent production systems with clear processes. This leads to higher effectiveness,” says 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 offer fresh products with great quality, and this is the most important for our clients."
That’s precisely the outcome that GLOBALG.A.P. targeted. “With the support of training and the engagement of a local retailer, commercially oriented farmers in emerging markets are incentivized to adopt good agriculture practices and achieve certification,” said Kristian Moeller, CEO of GLOBALG.A.P. “This certification helps lower the initial barriers to access higher-value markets and lays the foundation for long-term positive business impacts in the local farming community.”
IFC’s work in food safety is part of our strategy to develop agribusiness and contribute to greater global food security. The potential is especially high in Europe and Central Asia, where countries have natural resources to become leading producers and exporters of agricultural products.
We also work to improve business regulations in the industry, promote access to finance for farmers, modernize agricultural supply chains, help producers enter new markets, and enhance competitiveness.
Access to the GLOBALG.A.P. offerings motivated Maldjanski to move forward on a long-held hope to enter new markets, and he says the certificate has prompted distributors to take him much more seriously now. “I’ve been attending food safety trainings for some years now but I never had the courage to implement the certification myself,” he says. “Kaufland’s support was very important for me to certify my production. They supported me and also helped me realize that I am capable of getting the certification. Now, Kaufland is one of my key clients.”
He’s especially focused on the way his new certification makes his business more competitive.
“Being a farmer is an easy thing if you love what you do and you do it good. There is a lot of competition and it gets more active every day. However, with quality, you can easily beat the competition,” he says.
To learn more about IFC’s work in food security, visit www.ifc.org/agribusiness.
This story is also available in Bulgarian.
Published in May 2017