Host: Mr Marinov, is there any change in the conditions for applicants under the School Fruit scheme for 2013-2014 school year, the call for applications is under way?
Chavdar Marinov: Yes, you are right. The application campaign for the 2013-2014 school year is already running. There are changes in terms of reduction of the administrative burden. For the new school year we developed a strategy, together with our colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which was approved by Brussels and the major change consists in the expansion of the scheme to include also 3 and 4-year children in kindergartens. In this way the budget allocated to Bulgaria is increased by 50%. The scheme is simple, the required documents are only five. The deadline for submission of applications is 20 September.
The main aim of the scheme is to reverse the negative tendency for low consumption of fruits and vegetables by children and to form healthy nutritional habits in this age, which can be preserved through adolescence and further. The covered fruits and vegetables are 14, among them apples, mandarins, grapefruit, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and the deliveries are made twice a week. School Fruit enjoys a wide social approval. Beyond preventing child health disorders, the scheme also stirs the market of fruits and vegetables and opens new job vacancies, especially in small towns and villages where the unemployment rate is extremely high. This evidences the considerable added value of the programme, the figures point likewise. The programme runs for the fourth consecutive year. In the first year of implementation – school year 2010-2011, it covered 96 500 children, the following year they were 122 000, in the last campaign they were 178 000 and next year we expect over 200 000 children from all around the country. This is a great success for us and we hope that this positive tendency will develop further.
At present the total budget of the scheme is around 5,5 million BGN, including European and national funds, the EU contribution being approximately 4 160 000 BGN. Last year we operated with financial resources to cover 133 000 children. With its own resources SF Agriculture covered the difference of 45 000 children, which means around 700 – 800 thousand BGN, thus showing that it is a responsible institution caring for children’s health.
Host: When should we expect all fruits and vegetables to reach the schools and kindergartens?
Chavdar Marinov: State Fund Agricultureis obliged to approve applicants for the scheme up to 31 October. This means that from 1 November start the deliveries of fruits and vegetables to schools and kindergartens and they continue until 31 May.