News archive - EU supports research centre in vegetable science,Balkans soon at the forefront of agriculture

EU support for a strong research centre in vegetable science will help to move Bulgaria and the Balkan region to the forefront of agriculture. This will bring many benefits to the country's vegetable industry and export abilities.

Bulgaria has long taken pride in producing quality fruits and vegetables, but its agricultural sector is being compromised by the shift to a free-market economy and tough EU legislation. Effective solutions to this challenge may lie with Bulgaria's Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute (Maritsa VCRI), which possesses the required expertise and background in upgrading the country's agriculture.

With this in mind, the EU-funded project 'Balkan vegetables research centre for transfer of European knowledge, research and practice' (EU-Balkanvegetables) strengthened Maritsa VCRI as a leading regional research authority in vegetable science.

The project team recruited new scientists from key European research centres to garner cutting-edge knowledge on topics such as plant genetics, pest risk analysis, plant nutrition and organic production. It also sent the Institute's young researchers and scientists abroad to exchange knowledge with new partner institutions in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. Lectures and training courses covered pivotal topics such as molecular breeding, molecular genetics, disease resistance, composting, biofertilisation, virus resistance and microbial interactions.

Importantly, the project team helped radically upgrade the laboratories and technical capabilities of the institute, including the development of a gene bank to grow and preserve genetic resources. The new equipment can handle advanced molecular, biochemical and physiological analyses, reinforcing the role of the institute's technology transfer office. Adding to the centre's primacy, the project team also helped establish and solidify dynamic partnerships with other stakeholders in Europe to further vegetable science considerably.

This endeavour has helped upgrade the level and quality of research at Maritsa VCRI, enhancing regional collaboration with Albania, FYROM, Greece and Serbia. Many partnerships were formed from the project, such as one notable joint partnership with a Dutch partner devoted to soil and plant analysis. On another front and as an example of recent successes, the institute developed a new variety of tomatoes that produce tomato juice that is very rich in antioxidants.

All these achievements will not only benefit farmers and agricultural stakeholders in the sector, but also deliver quality produce to consumers as well. This signals a new lifeline for agriculture in Bulgaria and gives birth to valuable new facilities for the region's stakeholders. The vegetable landscape in the country will finally be able to catch up with leading producers elsewhere and thrive in a competitive environment.

Source: Cordis technology marketplace

Geographical focus
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Agricultural Sciences

Entry created by Desiree Pecarz on March 18, 2013
Modified on March 18, 2013