In Bulgaria there is a principled possibility and a legislative framework that allows municipalities to provide agricultural land from the municipal land fund for cultivation to assist socially disadvantaged households. There are no clear parameters to what extent this support tool is used by both municipalities and socially disadvantaged families. There are many small, low-productive and isolated municipal agricultural lands that cannot be cultivated mechanically and are not of interest to large producers. These lands can be provided for the development of private farms and the provision of agricultural products for food. However, this process is not popular and is not fully used, and this type of land remains uncultivated. The provision of agricultural land, such as social assistance, to landless farmers can be a strong social tool, but at the same time an opportunity for the development of small farms in which non-technical crops can be grown in ecological ways. Such a practice would have a strong effect on ensuring the food independence of socially disadvantaged groups, especially in municipalities with agricultural land in Natura 2000 areas. Due to the limitations in the methods and measures for their processing, the terrains in the ecological network sometimes become a problem for the owner.
The Public Environmental Center for Sustainable Development (PECSD) will conduct an advocacy campaign for the active use of municipal agricultural land as a tool to support socially disadvantaged households and to promote their food independence.
The association will collect information about the existing positive practices in the municipalities or the absence of such. Based on the collected data, a normative and technical analysis will be performed and an information package will be prepared for the benefit of the interested parties. An advocacy and information campaign will be conducted, involving municipal administrations and citizens.
The project will be implemented in Northeastern Bulgaria, and several municipalities have been pilot selected, divided into categories: up to 10,000 inhabitants, up to 50,000 and over 50,000 people. Municipalities owning agricultural lands in Natura 2000 areas have been selected.
As a result of the campaign, a mechanism for access to land for socially disadvantaged families is provided. This should ensure their food independence, which includes the sale of surplus produce in local markets.