Today we are in Northeastern Bulgaria to visit Hamza Chakar, who is the owner of one of the largest farms, members of the Association. The farm is located in the village of Sevar, Kubrat municipality.
We find Mr. Chakar in his office in Kubrat. Due to the scale of his business, we expect to meet a serious and reserved businessman who will give us only a few minutes between his important meetings. However, we are very pleasantly surprised by the smiling man, who greets us hospitably and personally serves us coffee.
Mr. Hamza Chakar is among the most successful farmers and stockbreeders in the region and enjoys an extremely good reputation among his colleagues. We are convinced of this during the casual conversation, in which he answers our every question with a smile and a lot of frankness.
This conversation is proof that truly successful people, who have achieved everything with a lot of effort and work, remain earthly and well-meaning without unnecessary conditions.
– Hello, introduce yourself in a few words to the audience.
– Hello, my name is Hamza Chakar and I am 55 years old. I have been managing the farm in the village of Sevar for 29 years. At the same time I am engaged in agriculture. I am a hereditary breeder and I have inherited the love for animals from my family.
– What was on the site of the current farm when you started?
– These were old sheepfolds. Gradually, over a quarter of a century, we rebuilt and developed them. There are currently about 15 stables. And I started with 15 heifers, which were a gift from Georgi Gergov. This gift actually defined my path as a cattle breeder. I told him too.
– And today, 29 years later, how many and what kind of animals do you have on the farm?
– Currently there are about 3000 – dairy cows and animals for fattening. The Montbeliards are 120 cows and about 200 heifers and females for breeding.
There are many reasons to grow Montbeliards. In the first place is their economic longevity, they have identical indicators with the black-colored cows in terms of milk quantity, but with high fat content and protein. In our country, fat content is important because it is paid extra by processors. We work with 2 different dairies, where we deliver raw milk with our own transport. We have a fair relationship and the pay is good, because the increase due to the high fat content is about 10%.
– Can a comparison be made between Montbeliard and the black-and-white animals?
– There is no basis for comparison. The mobeliards, as I said, are extremely long-lived. We have animals that reach 8 – 9 lactations. The quality of the production is very high.
Fattening animals of the breed is also very profitable. The average profit of a fattened Montbeliard male calf is twice as high as that of the black-and-white calf.
– When did you buy the first Montbeliards and when did you start exchanging them artificially?
– I have been raising animals of the breed for more than ten years, and in our farm it is inseminated entirely artificially.
– The average lactation of the Montbeliard herd on your farm is over 8 tons. How has it changed over the years? Can you compare the current herd with the first animals purchased? Did growth lead to reproductive problems?
– The changes are entirely in a positive aspect. We managed to significantly increase the production in terms of quantity and fat content, while maintaining all the good characteristics of the breed such as temperament, structure and longevity. Fortunately, we have no problems with reproduction. At Montbeliard we have higher fertility than black-and-white animals.
– You inseminate some of the black-and-white animals with Montbeliard seed. When did this practice start and what are the results?
– 12-13 years ago. The results are impressive. We have increased the time of their use and reduced the waste. Economic longevity increased with lactation and a half to two. At the same time, the amount of production was maintained.
– You are one of the farmers with many years of experience in the industry. What is the most important condition for success in this business?
– Love of animals, of course. If it is missing, success is unlikely. It is important to learn from your mistakes. In the beginning I did a lot, but this is not a reason to give up, on the contrary. Mistakes should serve as a lesson and motivation for higher results.
– Have you been able to benefit from state support over the years?
– In the beginning we implemented 4 projects under the Sapard program, which was a big boost for us. Subsequently, we have also implemented projects under measures 121 and 4.1. In this regard, we have tried to make optimal use of targeted support to develop and optimize working conditions.
– You said that you are also engaged in agriculture. How do you combine two businesses that require so much attention?
– For me, agriculture and animal husbandry are like both hands – left and right. Each does its job and not that they can not do without each other, but the result is quite different. They complement each other and give independence.
– You said that you have optimized the farm as much as possible, and how do you manage to find a job?
– 36,000 decares of arable land and 3,000 animals in total, we serve a total of 75 people – administration, workers and construction crew.
– This is a serious team! To manage it, you probably never rest!
– On the contrary! I rest regularly! I even have an afternoon rest every day! It’s all a matter of good organization!
– Which is more profitable – animal husbandry or plant growing?
– Crop production, unfortunately. I’m not talking about subsidies, that’s clear! In my opinion, the subsidies should be stopped completely and the support should be only tied – for produced and delivered products! Otherwise, activity is simulated in order to receive a subsidy and the actual workers are harmed. At the moment this is happening with the subsidy per animal – we keep animals to get BGN 200-300 more. This is not effective. The only meaningful support system is production-linked.
– Is there no option in which successful businessmen like you to unite and participate more in decisions that affect the industry?
– It’s all populism! Before elections, all parties turn to small producers and promise them something, because they are more like voters. In my opinion, the small ones should be supported more than the big ones – that is why they are big. Growing business must be a priority.
– And how did you become a big businessman – thanks to or despite the state?
– Because we have implemented at least 5 projects and have been receiving subsidies for over 10 years, it is not right to complain. This is a total of over 20 million and all are visible – they are invested as intended!
They are not in hotels, cars, houses or resorts, as there are many similar examples. Everything is invested in the activity that has been the subject of support. Even if they are 50 million, I will still invest them in the business! We do not have a single gram of production to leave the farm without a document and it will always be so. If we want change, we must follow the rules ourselves!
– We will visit you again to talk about the fattening farm, as this is a topic we have not touched on so far.
– Welcome, but let me gain more experience. We are now still new and in the process of development. The similarities between dairy and beef cattle breeding are very small and require completely different care and investment.
– Thank you for the warm welcome and time!
– It was very nice for me and I will be waiting for you again!