site.btaProducers Protest against Appreciation of Irrigation Water
Fruit and vegetable growers Tuesday protested against the increase of the irrigation water price. They blocked traffic on the Razgrad-Targovishte road in the area of the roundabout near Trapishte (Northeastern Bulgaria) for an hour. Participating in the peaceful protest, organized by the Bulgarian Association of Raspberry and Berry Growers, were producers from the regions of Razgrad, Targovishte, Sofia, Plovdiv, Lovech, Burgas, Haskovo, Blagoevgrad, Varna, and Montana.
They circled the roundabout with machinery and signs reading, "300% markup on water is killing us", "The caretaker cabinet not to touch the price of irrigation water", "Water is irreplaceable raw material for fruit and vegetable growing".
Bulgarian Association of Raspberry and Berry Growers head Bozhidar Petkov told reporters that the protesters' demands are the result of many years of problems and disputes. "Our patience was exhausted after we learned that the price announced by Irrigation Systems for season 2023 is by 300% higher than the previous year's," he explained. In his words, such a high percentage of markup makes berry growing unthinkable.
He specified that the appreciation of irrigation water also affects grain producers, rice producers, and fruit and vegetable growers. It will further wind the inflation spiral.
According to Petkov, the pricing of irrigation water is not done transparently and under a set public methodology. "We are currently making serious calculations not how but whether to produce our produce, because it might turn out that we are starting with a loss of BGN 2,000 per 0.1 ha unless the water price is reduced to the levels of season 2022," he noted.
Nikolay Kolev of the Union of Danube Fruit Growers said that they participated in the protest to defend their colleagues from the Bulgarian Association of Raspberry and Berry Growers in relation to the several-fold increase of the water provided by Irrigation Systems.
The rice producers from Blagoevgrad Region participating in the protest told reporters that they want not only the water price to be reduced but also to be more competitive with other countries. There the cost of producing a kg of rice is much lower, while in Bulgaria it constantly appreciates and will soon make it impossible to grow rice here.
If raspberry and berry growers are not heard and the State does not take measures to lower the price of irrigation water, the next protest will be held in Sofia next week. "We are ready for strike action and we expect to receive written evidence of decisions taken. Political promises alone will not do," Petkov underscored.