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Second Meeting of Balkan Linkage on vegetables – what has happen? 5/11/12

Second Meeting of Balkan Linkage on vegetables is already a fact – what has happen, what has been learned and what has been decided!

23-24 April, 2012 were the days which gathered the scientists, members of Balkan linkage on vegetables, at Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute (VCRI) in Plovdiv. The meeting was attended also by representatives of Agricultural Academy (AA), Ministry of agriculture, directors and colleagues from institutes, belonging to AA and Agricultural University. This assembly is initiated from EU-BALKANVEGETABLES project within FP7 of European Commission (EC). The coordinator of the project, Dr. D. Kostova, welcomed the guests and summarized the aim and the program of the meeting. She emphasized that the main goal of the Second meeting is to discuss the ways for funding of agricultural science as well as to share problems which hamper the research programs.

Dr. S. Masheva, the director of Maritsa VCRI, as a first key-note speaker, presented the financial status of Maritsa VCRI and underlined that the current improvement of technical and human potential of the Institute is due entirely to the successful projects, European as well as national ones. In the same time, these project, especially the national, caused the biggest and the most difficult problems. According to the current law the project’s funds are centralized and their return to the beneficiary institute is a slow and time-consuming process. Very often these funds never reached the institute resp. the team which won the project! The problem concerning the European projects are VAT expenditures which are not eligible costs by EC but also are not covered by the Institute’s budget. The same problems were pointed out at the presentation of Dr. R. Bachvarova, the director of AgroBio Institute in Sofia. She shared an astonishing fact – 720 000 BGN, won by the institute’s team from successful projects at National Science Fund, were centralized at Agricultural Academy during 2009-2010, and since then never returned to the Institute! Similar paradox has happen at Maritsa VCRI, but here those funds are only 149 000 BGN!

Dobrudja Agricultural Institute was represented by its director, Dr. I. Kiriakov. The Institure’s income from royalties, licenses, seeds and other activities far exceeds the government subsidies. But unfortunately this own income goes to AA and does not remain at the Institute to support its updating and progressing.

Contrary to Bulgarian problems, the colleagues from Serbia and Macedonia presented the financial models of their institutes and universities. According to these models all funds, generated from own production, are invested back in the institutes. As a consequence the progress and upgrading the level of investigations is obvious as well as the science personnel is more motivated and dedicated.

A lively discussion followed. But the organizers’ efforts this discussion to be heard by responsible persons from Parliament, Ministry of agriculture, Ministry of finance, Regional authorities etc. were in vain. The send official invitations by mail and by phone calls were declined. The scientific secretary of AA, Dr. M. Nikolova, supported the general opinion to give publicity of the current problems.

From the presentation of Dr. Hans De Steur, Ghent University we learned how to write successful projects in EC Frame Programs, or at least where to pay attention in order to pass the threshold. He made us familiar with the new platform „Food2Know”, where industry meets research. Tihomira Slaveikova, the junior expert at Ministry of Environment and Water presented EC Danube strategy and its implementation mechanisms.

Last but not least was the presentation of Dr. I. Chalakov, Senior research fellow at Dep. Science, Education and Innovation, IIOZ – BAS, Sofia, about the academic entrepreneurship in Bulgaria.

What has been decided! Unanimously a resolution was voted and it was sent to responsible ministries and institutions in order to solve the existing problems connected with funding of the research institutes within AA.

The proposed changes within the law regulations express the hope of the scientists for governmental support of agricultural science in Bulgaria.

Second Meeting of Balkan Linkage on vegetables - resolution