Prof. Nedko Nedkov, Director of the Institute of Roses, Essential and Medical Cultures in the southern Bulgarian town of Kazanlak, in an interview with Agriculture Time program of FOCUS Radio
Agriculture Time project is co-financed by the European Union, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, contract ¹ AGRI2011-0122
Host: The Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food will take up a campaign to promote rose oil and its products so that it could become a product that would present Bulgaria to the rest of the world, said Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov, while visiting the town of Kazanlak. The Arab countries already know Bulgarian rose oil. When Minister Naydenov and an official business delegation visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia, rose oil enjoyed keen interest and the markets of these countries are already open to it. Rose-growing has traditions in Bulgaria. Which of them have been preserved, Mr. Nedkov?
Prof. Nedko Nedkov: There are now 36,000 decares of rose bushes in Bulgaria’s Rose Valley. They have been planted in the past seven or eight years. They produce about 1,5 tons of rose oil annually, which is quite enough to meet the demand of the international market. The main consumers of Bulgarian rose oil of high quality are France – predominantly for perfumes of high quality – and Germany – for production of medicines. Rose oil has recently been applied in pharmacy for production of medicines against allergies. Japan’s market is widely open to Bulgarian rose oil, because it is used predominantly for production of food supplements. Bulgarian rose oil is exported also to the U.S., mainly for production of perfumes. For years we have been exporting also to Dubai. Firms in Bulgaria produce rose oil specially for Dubai. Dubai also has much developed perfume industry. They know Bulgarian rose oil. They finance Bulgarian firms here and buy Bulgarian rose oil. The tradition in Bulgaria, especially in the Rose Valley which produces the rose oil with the highest quality in the world, is more than 100 years old. By the way, the climate conditions in the Rose Valley are unique in the world and they give, and the species of the Institute of Roses, rose oil of high quality. These conditions, the species with high quality and high yields – Vezhen, Iskra and Elena – which were developed by the Institute and the geographical conditions of the Rose Valley with its matchless soils and unique climate make it possible for Bulgaria to produce rose oil with the highest quality which is used mainly in the perfume industry. So the traditions are big and they keep on developing. We hope that in the years to come rose-growing will continue developing more quickly, given the fact that rose producers come to the Institute and order planting material – Rosa damascene, i.e. in the next years these 36,000 decares will become around 40,000. So this tradition, which is alive in Bulgarians’ minds, in the Rose Valley, will be kept and enlarge in the future.
Host: You mean producers are interested in rose-growing, do not you?
Prof. Nedko Nedkov: Yes, I do, financing is allocated under programs. In the Rose Valley rose bushes will multiply. In the recent years a lot of efforts were made in the area of rose-growing, about 20-30 stills were built. These modern stills produce Bulgarian rose oil of high quality. So much has been done and is being done for Bulgarian Rosa damascene. Of course, there have been some difficulties in the recent years; the global economic crisis has not skipped us. I mean, in the past one or two years the rose blossom price was very low – about BGN 1,6. The price was not sufficient to invest in rose bushes so that they could resume their good appearance. I mean processing, fertilization and others. But I think things will get back to normal this year, because it is expected that the rose blossom price will be a bit higher. Profits will be higher and rose growers will be able to invest in their rose gardens. High yields and higher profits are predicted in the years to come.
Host: How much of the rose oil produced in Bulgaria is sold abroad?
Prof. Nedko Nedkov: About 98-99% is sold abroad. A small amount remains in Bulgaria. It is used in medicine, for tiny vials of rose oil sold to tourists. Some firms produce perfumes with Bulgarian rose oil. But this is a very small amount; most of it is exported. You know, there is high demand for Bulgarian rose oil; it is matchless. Bulgaria is number one in the world in terms of both quantity and quality. Prices are very good on the international market and this gives an opportunity for Bulgaria to develop its rose-growing sector in the next years. The Ministry of Agriculture supports this sector and we hope rose fields will increase in the years to come in Bulgaria, particularly in the Rose Valley.
Host: How many profits does rose-growing generate?
Prof. Nedko Nedkov: They are quite high. I cannot cite figures, because each firm keeps them secret. Each firm has contracts with brokers in France, Germany, the U.S. and exports rose oil through them. They have contacts for years ahead. They reach an agreement about prices and nobody can meddle with the negotiations. Foreign firms or Bulgarian firms in Bulgaria plant rose bushes and have long contracts and traditions in selling and buying Bulgarian rose oil. The profits from Bulgarian rose oil are quite high. This is a tradition; Bulgaria is known for its rose oil and vials of rose oil. This is a brand known across the world.
Host: What is the situation this year? The winter was severe. What yields do you expect?
Prof. Nedko Nedkov: The winter was very long. In such cases usually a rose bush spends all of its energy on maintaining its vital functions. Most of the rose bushes are exhausted. And now there is a dry spell. Farmers irrigate the fields, where possible, but if it is not possible, the fields are not irrigated and this dry spell will result in fewer rose buds. They will weigh less and the yields will be affected seriously. I hope it will start raining in a few days and the situation will get back to normal. Usually there are lower yields after long winters in comparison with an optimal year, but despite that, the areas planted with roses are large and I hope 1,5 tons of rose oil will be produced.
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The interview has been abridged. The whole of it is available in Bulgarian on www.focus-news.net.