Bulgarian Health Minister Issues Order on Farmers' Markets Reopening

Bulgarian Health Minister Kiril Ananiev Monday afternoon issued an order on the operation of cooperative and farmers' markets, farm land cultivation, uninterrupted livestock breeding and animal feed production, Ananiev's Ministry said in a press release.

Farmers' market Bulgaria
Beeld: bioferma.org

The order instructs municipalities to make arrangements protecting sellers and buyers at farmers' markets, including expanding their area and installing barriers so as to prevent crowding, setting one-way lanes between stalls, designating staff to control customers' access, preventing food contamination, having sellers and buyers wear protective equipment, and practicing personal hygiene and disinfection.

Farmers will be able to access their arable land, and agricultural producers will be able to take to the market vegetables, fruits, planting stock and other produce of their own while complying with all COVID-19 risk reduction requirements.

To ensure the uninterrupted raising of farm animals, produce processing and feed production, when healthy contacts among farm workers are quarantined, they may continue to work, limiting their movements from home to work, for which they will sign an undertaking, and their employer will provide working conditions safeguarding the rest of the staff. Compliance with personal hygiene requirements and use of personal protective equipment and disinfection is mandatory.

The development comes after three entities organizing farmers' markets (the HranCoop Cooperative, the BIOSELENA Foundation for Organic Farming and the LocalFood.bg Foundation) last week sent a letter to Agriculture, Food and Forestry Minister Dessislava Taneva and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova suggesting a reconsideration of the closure of open-air farmers' markets in the capital city that was ordered by Fandakova on March 13.

The initiative was noted by the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Farmers' markets are open to Bulgarian producers, farmers and craftsmen, registered under a special ordinance. Traders and food resellers are off limits, which ensures the shortest farm-to-fork route.

The organizers made enquires and found that the farmers' market situation in other EU Member States is rather volatile and changes by the day. Farmers' markets are closed only in Croatia, the Czech Republic and Ireland, they were closed last week in France but are already reopening in many places, including in Paris. Part of the farmers' markets in Greece, Slovenia, Germany and Belgium operate. In Spain and Italy there are municipalities where farmers' markets function, although in others they are closed by mayors' orders. There are also some that are suspending operations for economic reasons because producers are unable to recoup their participation costs as customers are too few due to restricted movement.

The farmers' markets organizers pledged their readiness to consider measures specific to each individual market, adapted to the particular location.

By the same order, the Health Minister directed local authorities to revoke all additional restrictions imposed a variance with the Health Act and with the March 13, 2020 State of Emergency Measures and Actions Act.

Source: BTA Daily news