Romania and Bulgaria are the South-East EU Member States part of the EU-13 countries that have joined the EU in 2007. Both countries have an important agricultural sectoral developments. The geographical location and the land, soil and environmental conditions offer many opportunities for sustainable practices in the field of rural development, bio economy, environment and protection of natural resources and biodiversity, ecotourism and food industry. The reforms in the last 30 years of transition brought a number of challenges. Building research excellence, innovation and new knowledge is a priority for meeting the current demands of the European market and utilizing the EU funding programmes.

Cooperation on Bio-economy with the Agricultural University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

From 22rd to 25th July a scoping mission has been organized by WUR and the Agricultural University of Plovdiv (AUP) to identify opportunities for cooperation in research and education in the field of Bio-Economy.

The AUP is currently coordinating a National programme on bio-economy in Bulgaria together with the Ministry of Agriculture, other universities and stakeholders and has requested experts from WUR to support them in implementing further activities to strengthen the local knowledge base on bio-economy.

The scoping mission was hosted by the Rector of the AUP Dr. Hristina Yancheva and Prof. Vladislav Popov (Leading the Agro-ecology center). Different presentations and discussions were held with the local researchers and a food processing industry, about the role of bio-economy. The region of Plovdiv is currently developing a strategy for to become a knowledge hub in the field of healthy food, food industry and sustainable agricultural practices. The AUP’s ambition is to initiate a future knowledge centre on Bio-economy in South-East Europe.

From WUR in the mission participated Vanya Simeonova (EU office-CSA), Berien Elbersen (WeNR). a group of colleagues have contributed to the preparation of the mission, including Prof. Luisa Trindade (PSG) and Emiel Wubben (SSG).

The Dutch Embassy in Sofia has supported the start of this initiative, by the Agricultural Attaché Arie Veldhuizen and Doriana Milenkova.

As a follow up of the mission a Horizon 2020 proposal was developed and submitted for the Horizon 2020-WIDESPEAD call round in November, 2019.