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From the strawberry fields of Bulgaria’s Ludogorie region to the European markets

Photo: personal archive of Mehmed Feraim

A wrestler on Bulgaria’s national team with multiple triumphs on the European and Bulgarian mats behind his back – this is the reason Mehmed Feraim has risen to fame. Today, the 27-year-old man is achieving success also in the strawberry fields near his native village of Pechenitsa in Bulgaria's Ludogorie region.

“Up until now, my family was into the livestock breeding business. Yet, since farming organic strawberries was a big dream of my father’s, last year when I came back home, we decided to make it a reality. We are consulting an expert in organic farming to achieve a produce with the highest of quality and cleanness. This year we have our first harvest,” shares the young farmer.

Mehmed’s family is cultivating 3 hectares of organic strawberries. “In this production process, only organic fertilizers are used, no synthetic pesticides are permitted, and all indexes are strictly tracked,” he says, explaining the prolonged and complex process of organic farming. The process is very cost-consuming, but Mehmed describes his satisfaction with excitement: “Believe me, the taste of organic produce is completely different, it’s so authentic! I have never tasted such sweet strawberries before!”

An obstacle for the organic farmer is the lack of manpower. He manages to find workers for picking the strawberries through social media.

“Yesterday, we had 30 people, today we have 50. Bad weather is a problem for us, since, as you know, strawberries tend to spoil quickly, especially in a humid environment. Today, we have 2 tons, but we should have picked up 5 tons. I hope that we will be done with the strawberry harvesting by the 20th of June.”

When it comes to finding markets for the produce, the former wrestling champion and current farmer is calm and reassured:

“There is a substantial interest in our organic strawberries. We pass on the harvested produce to an establishment in the city of Veliko Tarnovo, where it is stored in huge refrigerators. From there on, it goes to the European markets. Probes are constantly sampled and the analyses prove that the strawberries from the Pechenitsa fields are of high quality and grown with love for nature".

"Agriculture today is the responsibility that we bear for the future of the bees, the soils, the water and the future of our children!” – this is the creed Mehmed Feraim is following on his new path. The young organic farmer does not skip the opportunity to invite us to his strawberry fields to try out the rich and authentic flavour of this gracious fruit!

English version Boris Tatchev

Photos: personal archive of Mehmed Feraim

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