In our summer interview series we are featuring a number of experts who have recently spoken at the FOOD 2030 High Level Event in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and who all have their unique view on the food systems and the transformation it needs to become future-proof. Our fifth and final interviewee is Galina Peycheva-Miteva, a young farmer, working on a family farm in Bulgaria. Her family farms 1650 hectares of land and grows wheat, sunflowers, coriander, lavender, rose, alfalfa, grass mixes and cotton, and has an additional 50 hectares of vineyard. Her family has 600 hectare of bio production and use sustainable soil management practices. Galina was announced as the winner of the 2018 Soil Management Award at a ceremony in Brussels in March. She studied Econometrics in USA before becoming a farmer.
Why is your specific area of expertise important in relation to food systems transformation?
My specific area of expertise pertains to producing safe and healthy food by using less chemical and fertilizers and by substituting traditional intensive methods with innovative ones. I use nitrogen and phosphorus fixing bacteria instead of chemical fertilizer. I use bio fungicide and do not plow or disturb the land in any way that is not absolutely necessary.
What is the single most important issue to be addressed to make our food system future-proof?
I think that we have to change our diets to consist of less meat and less dairy in order to accommodate more people and less resources. We should start by educating people and by teaching the new concept that less is more and healthier. We have to lose the mentality that whatever comes will not be our problem and we have to take charge of our destiny.
What needs to be done to make the outcomes of Research & Innovation more impactful?
Education and the popularisation of new ideas will make the outcomes of Research and Innovation more impactful in transforming our food systems. I believe that we are ready and open to put ideas on a wide platform.
What can FOOD 2030 do to help you and your colleagues?
FOOD 2030 can support farmers who produce sustainably and responsibly by creating policies that support soil management practices, erosion preventing practices, and practices that improve soil fertility and biodiversity.
Describe a relevant innovative good practice related to food and nutrition security in your neighbourhood/region.
On our farm, we let people pick grapes at the harvest and to pay a nominal fee for the produce. We also let people come and pick grapes as an exercise and as a form of education. It is a great pleasure to see families come and enjoy the countryside together.
As a citizen, how are you contributing to food systems transformation?
I educate my children and my family about the importance of respecting the land and the food it gives us. We are all flexitarians, we eat seasonably and we eat mostly a plant-based diet. I take my children to the farm where they see the labor and love that goes into producing food and they both are passionate about sustainability.
What is your preferred meal and who would attend?
My favorite meal is grilled sardines split in the middle with a piece of tomato inside, with a Greek salad, a glass of white wine and some olives. I would love to have dinner with Michele Obama, for me she is an inspiration and an example.