Today’s meeting is with a lady who does not need to be introduced to most of the members of NARMS. For four years now, she has been diligently and eagerly monitoring every event and problem on the farms entrusted to her by the Association. This is our favorite Maria Karadalieva – associate region South – Southeast.

Behind Maria’s fragile appearance is a lot of hard work, perseverance and a desire to help everyone. Many farmers often tell us how they look forward to it every month and what an indispensable help it gives them with each visit.

We chose to meet you with Maria because she is the one who can tell you better than anyone else about the work and efforts behind the monthly visits to the farms, as well as the meaning, result and essence of the activity we develop.

Maria has built lasting relationships of trust and cooperation with the farmers from the farms entrusted to her. How she managed to gain their respect, how long her working day is and what responsibility she has for the data she records and processes, we will find out now.

– Hello Maria! They all know, but still tell us about yourself? Who is Maria and how did you get into the Association?

– My name is Maria Karadalieva, 32 years old from Stara Zagora. I have a master’s degree in informatics, and I am currently studying for a master’s degree in “Breeding and Reproduction” at the Agricultural University in Plovdiv.

– What did you do before you started working in the Association?

– Before I started working at NARMS, I was the head of Sector in one of the large retail chains. The work was very dynamic and with many responsibilities. It was related to the management and control of all received funds, as well as the management of a large team of employees.

– Since when have you been working at NARMS? How did you focus on this area?

– It will soon be 4 years. I handed in my documents almost as a joke. I did not expect to be called at all and even less to be approved, as I had no experience. My secondary education is Veterinary Laboratory, but other than that I did not have any direct contact with animals before entering NARMS. However, Mr. Atanasov decided to give me a chance and over the years I tried to compensate for the lack of experience with a lot of effort and to understand every detail of the activities of the farms.

– In that case, in the beginning it must have been quite difficult for you to learn everything from scratch?

– It wasn’t easy at all, really. Mr. Atanasov took a lot of time and attention to teach me. In the end, however, the best teacher is work, and over time, and with the help of farmers, I gradually learned the basics. It all depends on personal motivation and the desire to do the job properly. Mr. Atanasov is very strict, does not allow ignorance and excuses, which is also a serious incentive to try to upgrade over time. I am still learning a lot of things, but when a solid knowledge base is created it is much easier to upgrade.

– When we meet farmers from your region, they do not fail to praise you for the work and efforts you make to do your job and to help them. How did you win their respect?

– The most important thing is the human attitude and to really listen to the problems of the farmers. These are people who have invested all their lives and everything they have to develop this activity and deserve respect. As I said, they taught me a lot and I always tried to pay attention to everyone and know each farm in detail, not just to record data and leave. You know very well that the work does not end with the recording of the movement during the month in the table. In order to be really useful, we need to know the animals, to be aware of how they are raised, what health problems they have, how much milk they give, how they are inseminated and many other things. We cannot afford to go unprepared to the sites and not know why we are there. Mutual respect is a two-way street and requires building trust and perseverance. I hope that I have achieved it in the sites entrusted to me.

There is no way to control a herd without entering the barn! There is no way farmers can trust us if we do not know their animals. I try to keep an archive of each farm so that I can provide information when needed. Breeders in my area know that I am always available if they need assistance.

– Some farmers are not quite aware of what the activity of NARMS actually is and these monthly visits are even a burden for them… there are those who are members only because of the subsidy, and others find it difficult to keep time to keep the primary documentation. Can you describe the process in a few words and what is the meaning of it?

– Our main mission is to be “accomplices” of those who really want to develop a purebred herd with quality products. This takes time and selection control is not a dry data recording. On the contrary – the process is extremely complex! We compare the data we receive from the farms with the information available in our database, monitor the records in the integrated system of the BFSA, compliance with the contingency plan, productivity and development of the herd with each succeeding generation and many other things. We assist farmers as needed through nutritionists or other training to optimize farm processes. We help them with the selection, purchase or sale of animals.

We have a huge responsibility for the accuracy of the data that we subsequently provide to the state, and we are in fact the link between farms and institutions. In this regard, the work requires a very detailed knowledge of the legislation and the announced deadlines for submitting information.

Farmers do not have time to monitor all new regulations and requirements, and the technical assistant must be able to consult them in time to ensure that they are properly inspected.

There are often discrepancies between the information entered in the veterinary system and that we receive from farms. This requires that such differences be closely monitored each month and corrected in a timely manner, as if, for example, an animal is recorded with another mother and subsequently inspected, it will not be eligible for support.

The website must also be kept up to date. Over time, farmers learned to enter it and use it to make a reference for a particular animal. With dropped ear tags, they can see in a few seconds who the animal is and what it looks like in order to put the correct mark on it, as it is our responsibility to upload up-to-date photos of the animals on the site.

The website is already used by the staff of the Executive Agency, as it contains, in addition to the photo, the complete pedigree and other data for each controlled animal.

This is also very helpful when selling animals between farms, as it allows buyers to get acquainted at a distance with the herd from which they intend to buy, the exterior and pedigree of the animals for sale, as the Association guarantees the authenticity of the published data. We are obliged to update the information on the site on a monthly basis.

– Which farmers are more – those who understand the meaning of selection control and really want to produce something quality or those who do everything out of obligation and membership simply to take subsidies?

– To my great joy, there are more and more people who really try to provide the animals with the best possible conditions, follow the random plan and try very hard with each passing day and at the cost of a lot of effort. I am very proud of my farms and I really admire the huge work that is being done. That’s why I always try to be available to them!

– How many kilometers do you have to travel per day?

– It’s different, but sometimes they reach 500.

– And do you prepare before going to the sites?

– Of course! Recording data is the smallest part of our job. Before going to each farm, I carefully review the data from the previous month and identify topics and issues that we need to discuss. Mr. Atanasov also asks me questions that remain unresolved, because he reviews and monitors the information that is submitted for entry in the NARMS database after the visit. As you know, there is no room for discrepancies and ambiguities. Farm visits require serious preparation to know why you are there at all and not to waste farmers’ time. The processing of the information then takes several hours and, as I said, any discrepancy must be clarified.

– Do you have a day off?

– Of course, but I love my job and I am always available to everyone if they need assistance, because there is no day off for the animals.

– We are often asked why only women work in the Association and why often new colleagues fail to stay in office for long. How do you explain it?

– We women are stricter in terms of information processing, and the work involves a lot of administrative work. This is often boring and annoying for men and they do not approach with the necessary attention, and as I said, we are responsible for the information that is submitted to the institutions. If an error is made, this can subsequently lead to serious consequences for the holdings in the event of an inspection. We, as collaborators, are personally responsible with our signatures for the submitted data.

New colleagues often underestimate the work and decide that it all starts and ends with the recording of data. They turn out to be unprepared and subsequently fail to keep up. It takes a lot of effort to learn things that people have learned and worked all their lives. You can’t be responsible for animals if you haven’t been to the barn. You can’t do without love for animals either. The work requires a very serious attitude and responsibility, and most of the people who enter expect to walk and take some money without effort. Cant happen! Farmers feel when someone just beats the numbers, and if you don’t earn their respect, you can’t do your job. You can’t afford to go to the sites unprepared!

Sometimes the working day includes visiting 5-6 sites, traveling hundreds of kilometers, presence during milking – not everyone can withstand such a load.

I advise new colleagues to make an effort and respect the work of farmers, because the responsibility is great. If they are not inclined to take the activity seriously, it is better not to get involved!

– Mr. Atanasov mentioned several times. What kind of leader is he?

– This is a man completely dedicated to the activity. Literally around the clock! For four years, it never occurred to me not to pick up the phone of me or any of the farmers, regardless of the day and time, whether it is a weekday or a holiday, it is always available. He is extremely strict, demanding and fair. People who make an effort can count on his full cooperation in every way. Thanks to this rigor, I have learned so much and I am very grateful to him!

It provides us with all the necessary working conditions and access to training, but in return requires a very serious attitude. He has no day off and is either in front of the computer or on his way to the controlled sites. Completely committed to the cause and without any tolerance for excuses or lies.

I am proud that we are the only association that works so strictly and this is due to the fact that no compromises are made in the quality of work. Mr. Atanasov has helped and will help anyone who really wants to develop a quality herd and does not try to abuse.

Our website has no analogue among the Breeding Associations and this also requires a lot of effort, but I am glad to see that farmers already use it often.

– Maria, what else do you have to learn?

– Awful, of course! I study every day and I will continue! I love my job and I know it makes a lot of sense when it’s done right. It is a pleasure for me to watch the herds improve with each passing year and farmers are increasingly motivated to achieve even higher results!

I am glad that we have contributed to this and I am infinitely grateful to Mr. Atanasov and the farmers I work with, that over the years they have taught me so much, given me a chance to develop and today with great pleasure and desire I go to visit every object!

– What will you wish to our farmers?

– To be healthy, to work and to strive for more, regardless of the difficult conditions in the country! The association is their partner and if we are united and look in one direction, together as an organization we can achieve a lot! I wish them exactly that – to be united and to solve the problems together! Many greetings to all colleagues!

– Great finale! Greetings to all who will visit today and have a good trip!

– Thanks! A smiling and fruitful day for all of me!

– We hope that after this interview all colleagues will be more tolerant and diligent towards the girls who travel hundreds of kilometers to be useful in their difficult daily lives and for breeding the Montbeliard and Simmental breeds.