Ivan Bakalov, ET Malini, organic raspberry farmer

April 16, 2014

Ivan Bakalov is an engineer, although he has never really worked as one. Instead, he started farming 14 years ago, learning as he went.

Now, his main line of business is organic raspberries, which he grows on 30 ha. Ivan Bakalov has his own land and has leased land, both near the village of Glavatar in the Thracian Lowland. His produce is certified by the national organic food certification authorities. Samples from raspberries are tested in a laboratory several times per year to verify that they are indeed organic.

Five years ago, Ivan Bakalov started growing organic-certified lavender and lucerne (alfalfa) as complementary activities, the latter being used as a biological fertiliser.

ET Malini’s produce is largely for export - raspberries are sold in Germany and the Netherlands, and lavender in Spain.

The company employs seven full-time workers, while more than 150 people are hired during the harvesting period in high season. Ivan Bakalov’s family also plays an active role. His wife is in charge of the seasonal workers, and his son, who holds a degree in International Marketing from England, manages the marketing and sales.

Ivan Bakalov has been working with ProCredit Bank since 2007. Over the years, he has accessed mainly working capital financing for amounts consistent with the size of his business. In 2010, Ivan Bakalov invested in the purchase his own farm land.

“We are organic farmers. We care about the environment. This is more than just a business; first and foremost this is our hobby. Our main principle in life is that everything we do must bring us joy. Plants know when you are doing your best and working with love. My main motivation for staying in the farming business is to create - there is a lot of pleasure in seeing things brought to life as a result of your efforts. This is what drives us to go on developing the business.

“Being a farmer means investing a great deal of love and devotion to one’s work every day. I know that my Business Client Adviser understands my business and his attitude is the same as mine. I am happy with the co-operation with the bank so far. Over the years, my enterprise has grown with the support of a reliable partner: ProCredit Bank.”