Memorandum Speech to the Participants in the Celebration of Konstantin Malkov IPGR Anniversary and 120th Anniversary of Agrarian Science in Sadovo May 21 – 22, 2002

Prof. Rada Koeva – The Director of IPGR

Dear guests, welcome!
Turning back the pages of the history of agricultural science in Sadovo does not raise the immaterial shadows of its hard working creators. It brings back to life dates, events, personalities and achievements of landmark dimensions in the destiny of our country.
Today, we commemorate agricultural science in Sadovo, one with a special place in the development of Bulgarian science. A hundred and twenty years is an honorable age of profound wisdom in science, having resisted the changes of time and the turmoil of social cataclysms and carried over the eternal values of scientific facts to the present day. It is a good reason for sensible evaluation of the deeds of the pioneers, drawing the line for what was created after them and the blessed work of the young.
From the distant 1882, when the first educational and experimental fields in Sadovo was created, through 1901–1902 with the establishment of the Experimental station and until the new history of agricultural science, a number of scientists, experts and authors of valuable scientific findings, diverse educational and applied activities, have worked here and left their professional imprint and contribution. Some of them will remain in the annals of agricultural science of Sadovo forever and represent Bulgaria in front of the whole world.
The spiritual pantheon of Sadovo keeps the names of Bulgarians with great ideas and deeds. They were highly qualified specialists, devoted to science and their country, enlighteners and agrarian teachers. They had been educated in West Europe, went through frequent post-graduation studies in different subjects but one by one they came back to Bulgaria and started sharing their knowledge and experience for their motherland and their people without demanding the equivalent revenue for the energy or money spent on education. They opened schools in towns and villages and involved society in changing people's destiny.
One of these Bulgarians was Dimitar Naumov Mihalchev from Stara Zagora. Educated at Robert College in Istanbul and enrolled in post-graduation programs, he visited a number of European countries such as Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France, lead by his inquisitiveness and professional interests. He came back to start working in the village of Dolno Toshevo (1975), later he became the Governor of Edirne villayet and Member of Eastern Roumelia National Assembly. A personality that determined the destiny of agricultural science in Sadovo, he published newspapers and journals, conducted enlightening activities and scientific research, totally devoted to his country. In spite of his short 33-year life, his noble deeds survived 120 years. Years later, when he was forgotten by country and society, someone's consciousness erupted in the Agronomist Journal: "Is our society dead not to do anything about Naumov? Has the Ministry of Agriculture forgotten his feat? Does Sadovo know who it owes its fame to? Has agronomy renounced one of its prides?" This example is not the only one in the history of science. We should learn better and not repeat the same mistakes. Usually, we forget good and unselfish deeds but this also shows the helplessness of mediocrity.
Konstantin Malkov was another bright figure. Supervisor of the Educational and Experimental Field, later – founder of the Agricultural Experimental Station in Sadovo. Agronomist by profession, teacher, scientists and publisher. Educated in Germany, had his post-graduation there, he studied the experience of France in the organization of educational and experimental fields and seed production stations in Âèë Ìî ðåí and in Sweden – the achievements in the organization of experimental stations. He has collaborated with scientists from Hungary and Czechoslovakia on the issues of farm crop diseases. A restless spirit, an eternal wanderer, ardent to learn more. A man of encyclopedic interests in agronomy and special contribution to phytopathology and cultivation techniques of major farm crops. He attributed a great importance to the introduction of plant genetic resources (PGR) in view of the fast improvement of separate crops and direct on-farm implementation of world specimens of better quality. He paid a special attention to specimens of local cultivated flora and started working on their systematics and description. He carried out comparative ecologic varietal trials and set the beginning of the area distribution of crops and their cultivars. His titanic mind, in spite of his ill body, encompassed issues of different nature – from the development of agriculture in Europe, education, grain markets and farm crop yields to profound scientific research on sesame, cereals and cotton diseases. An energetic person, devoted to his last breath to science, the problems of agriculture and destiny of Bulgarian farmer. His reports to ministries, applications, comments and civil position are literary specimens of a talented writer, endowed with the sense of proportion of a scientist, knowledgeable about nature and a philanthropist.
Deep marks in the scientific activity of the Sadovo Experimental Station were left by Stanislav Dospevski, successor to the deeds of K. Malkov and a number of their followers up to 1976 that supported the research at the Experimental Station in different periods of its development to the level of a leading scientific center in collecting and utilizing PGR, both local and foreign and conducting a strong breeding and improvement activity after 1925 on a large number of farm crops – wheat, rice, peanuts, sesame, flax, hemp, cotton, chick-peas, pepper and rapeseed. The history of the agricultural science in Sadovo has a special place for the honorable names and deeds of K. Bernkopf, Iv. Stranski, Jeko Cholakov, Acad. Pavel Popov, Acad. Hristo Daskalov and Tz. Tzonev. They developed the theory and practice of selection and improvement of major farm crops and left valuable cultivars in the varietal list of our country.
Another achievement of the IPGR – Sadovo is the development of breeding and improvement activities of major crops in the country based on modern criteria. The period after 1925-1930 was a great success in the breeding activity in Sadovo due to the application of the methods of inter-cultivar hybridization by Acad. Hristo Daskalov and Jeko Cholakov. The results of this work were the wheat cultivars Okerman, Dunavka and Maritza.
The large-scale breeding work of Academician Pavel Popov and his disciples – the breeders Ivan Vassilev, Dora Boyadjieva and Ilia Stankov – produced an impressive list of durum wheat cultivars – Yubileina 1, 2, 3; Okerman 17, Sadovska Ranozreika 2 and 3, Nadejda, Hebros, Sadovo 1, Sadovo Super, Lada, Katia, Momchil, Pobeda, Bononia and Sadovska Belia.
The breeding programs and new criteria in the improvement activities of the recent decade adequately recorded the changes of climate and took into consideration the integrity and balance of ecological systems. The list of wheat cultivars was supplemented with the new varieties Diamant, Mustang, Murgavetz, Prelom, Sadovo 772, Zdravko, Sadovo 552 and Boriana. The institute registered new achievements in the selection of important farm crops such as wheat (14 cultivars), triticale, oats (1), peanuts (4), sesame (2), rice (4 new), green peas (3), chick-peas (1), lentils (2), vetch (1), tomato (4), egg-plant (2) and green beans (2).
The breeding school of IPGR – Sadovo has gained wide recognition among scientists and practitioners with its 120-year long tradition in this field. The breeding programs have stood up to the difficulties and the cultivars obtained have the potential to improve the varietal structure of agriculture and increase farm revenues. This activity is conducted in creative collaboration with the phytopathologists at the institute. They actively participate in the evaluation and consolidation of the primary breeding material in terms of its resistance to economically important diseases – powdery mildew, rust, Fusarium and mycoses. The scientists of Sadovo, followers of K. Malkov, have valuable developments in the field of cultivation techniques and varietal technologies. We are satisfied with the first steps of the young generations of breeders and agrotechnicians and we are confident that they will grow and develop their potential according to the high criteria of the school in Sadovo with regard to plant breeding, phytopathology and farming technologies.
The current list of over 55 cultivars of more than 17 crops, covering a relatively large portion of farm land in Bulgaria for the respective species is a success-story for the institute. These data will be reported at the scientific session and the presence of our partners from the farms is a proof of the constantly growing interest in the scientific products of the institute. One of the peaks in the history of Sadovo is the establishment of the Institute of Introduction of Plant Genetic Resources in 1977 within the frames of UN development programs and with the technical assistance of FAO. This historical phenomenon and the following evolution of activities in PGR in the period of 1977-1986 placed Bulgaria among the leading European countries in germplasm conservation. The accomplishment of the National Program on Plant Genetic Resources within the frames of the European Program and the IPGRI, Rome, Italy is an important mission of our country for the conservation of our national plant capital. It facilitates Bulgaria in its way towards European standards in the field of plant genetic wealth, agriculture and ecology. We are grateful for the efforts of eminent Bulgarian scientists and specialists who devoted their life to this important issue – the collection, evaluation, conservation and utilization of PGR for the purpose of breeding, agriculture and ecology. The period of organizational growth and methodical consolidation of the National Program of Plant Genetic Resources and its enrollment in the structures of FAO and the IPGRI in Rome, Italy is related to the names of Prof. Georgi Staykov, Prof. Kiro Kostov, Dr. Dimitar Stoyanov and their closest associates – Chavdar Chavdarov, Boris Matzov, Stoyko Georgiev, Angel Katzarov, Ilia Kanev, Penka Georgieva, Angel Lichkov, Kana Sevova, Ivanka Bojinova, Todorka Deneva and many others.
The modern history of the National Program of Plant Genetic Resources and its contribution to the conservation of genetic diversity witnessed the development of interaction principles on national level and the achievement of efficient coordination between the IPGR – Sadovo, selection centers, leading scientific institutions (BAS), government institutions and NGOs. The purpose is to create guarantees for sustainable resource conservation and management, to prevent the hazards to genetic diversity and preserve if for the generations ahead. The first steps were encouraging. All institutes and stations in the system of the NCAS, for instance, showed understanding and our working meetings have been easier to organize and much more useful during the last four years.
On this day we would like to express our gratitude to the members of PGR program, to all, who cooperated for the enrichment of national PGR collections with over 60 thousand plant specimens, representatives of over 327 plant species (the last inventory showed 59,751 samples, 38,598 of which are left for long-term preservation at the National Genebank and another 27,893 – for short-term preservation). We would like to express our acknowledgements to all colleagues for the better coordination in the frames of the National Program for Plant Genetic Resources. This is the only secure way for their global preservation and utilization, people's alimentation and health.
On the day of the jubilee, we would like to praise all curators and specialists that were the pioneers in the field of PGR. There were many difficulties in the application, adaptation and searching for theoretical and scientific solutions in the conditions of Bulgaria with regard to genetic diversity. There was a lot of conservative inertia in society and scientific community about the importance of this problem to overcome, coordination to achieve and cooperation on behalf of government institutions. In some cases, the acknowledgement of our work came from the reliable participation of foreign partners in joint projects. We want to believe that similar paradoxes and underestimations are gone with the past, but still, we believe, that plant resources problems can be solved and reasonably eliminated only with the will of the society as a whole and the government.
The activities related to maintenance and seed production of cultivars of our own have shown sound traditions and successful development through the years. From the time of our patron Konstantin Malkov and his faithful followers up to the present days, this type of activities have been qualified as a natural continuation of the scientific research process and are of primary importance for maintaining the authenticity of original cultivars. The production of basic seeds of our own varieties is not only compulsory as per the Law of New Cultivar Protection but it also creates the prerequisites for the fast distribution of cultivars around the country, their control and high quality farm produce. IPGR – Sadovo highly contributes to legal initiatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and the organization of cultivar maintenance and seed production in the country.
In the newest history of the institute, following the Leipzig International Conference and the FAO Global Plan for Sustainable Conservation and Development of Plant Genetic Resources, IPGR – Sadovo contributed to the development and accomplishment of the National Plant of Biodiversity Conservation. A Program for Consecutive Coordination of Main Activities in Plant Genetic Resources was elaborated.
PGR problems were qualified as important elements of national security and a prerequisite for sustainable development of farm systems and structures, hence the confidence in the eternal character of nature and society. The Botanic Garden for valuable wild species of Bulgarian flora and demonstrative ex situ collections of rare, endangered and endemic species came as a continuation of the spirit of this plan.
Its opening on this day is devoted to our first teachers, who had a similar idea and had planned the opening of a botanic garden a century ago. Also, we are sure that if our highly respected first teachers could see and hear us today – agronomists and botanists – K. Bernkopf, V. Striburni, Prof. St. Dimitrov and Prof. D. Delipavlov as well as all other supporters of the idea of the botanic garden in Sadovo – they would join us in our happiness.
A hundred and twenty years and so many changes in agricultural science. A long period in the history of science, one of three generations, two of which are the connection between two epochs – past and future. This generation set the landmarks of basic directions in scientific research. These people represent the spiritual potential of agricultural science in Sadovo and their scientific inheritance is a noble equivalent of the Bulgarian contribution to science and practice as a whole. They were carriers of spirituality, valuable ideas and enlightenment. They were well educated, philanthropists and cosmopolitans. Erudites that had foreseen the importance of science and education for the revival of Bulgaria, its prestige of an equal to other countries. Socially responsible for their actions, they considered enlightening inseparable from their activities and never stopped educating their people. They carried useful information on the development of agriculture in foreign countries and the achievements in different areas of our country and assisted the creation of necessary specialists and practitioners to implement the new cultivation techniques. We will remember and we will never let the deeds of those personalities, people, scientists and citizens of Bulgaria of bright individuality and social integrity to be forgotten because of time or other factors. There is no place in history for those not endowed with these virtues.
What is the inheritance of the pioneers of agricultural science in Sadovo?
– Science evolution and progress require an all-time urge, love, devotion, faith and rebellious spirit for the search, testing and proving the truth about nature of things and phenomena in the world of nature. The history of science has recorded the immortality of this course.
– Only personalities that believe in their destiny, hard-working, highly educated and ready to devote themselves to science and its numerous provocations should enter the temple of science. Our ancestors have given the example.
– The wealth of knowledge and experience should grow and develop all the time if we want to keep them alive and this is only possible when the light of knowledge is an inherent demand for self-improvement.
– Information is the natural arena of eternal movement and openness in science, of exchange of knowledge and comparison basis, of valuable conclusions about the level of comprehension, experience, unsolved problems and errors to overcome. It is a basic instrument on the way to knowledge.
– The loyalty to scientific truth and the power of facts raises a strong barrier against self-delusion about how objective the results are.
– Scientific achievements are dedicated to the good of people, they should reach them quickly and selflessly. Delay and egoism destroy good intentions and virtues become vices.
– Science has no limits or privileges. Otherwise, it would suffocate and disintegrate. It is good for science to keep open the window to ourselves the world of knowledge. Cosmopolitism is a predecessor of today's globalism in science and eternal knowledge.
– Cooperation, teamwork and good coordination in science of themes, programs and actions creates the conditions for research completeness and depth. This helps scientists become people of principles, civility and loyalty. It increases the responsibility for the personal contribution. Acts like a corrector of the private within the general.
– Science is vital when it responds to social problems and the themes are moving on the blade of urgent matters without disregarding those in future perspective or those back in the beginning of times.
– Society should be sensitive to the behavior of institutions that represent it, especially when science is concerned. In the present world of science society, institutions and people can plan sustainability of development of all systems and activities.
The presence of Mr. Lorenzo Maggioni of IPGRI and Chief Coordinator of ECP/GR is emblematic for the role of Bulgarian program for plant genetic resources in the common strategy of Europe for the accomplishment of the Global Plan for conservation and sustainable development of plant genetic resources in agriculture.
The greetings from FAO Director General Mr. Jackues Diouf confirm the good relationships with IPGR – Sadovo as FAO representative of Bulgaria on issues of plant genetic resources.
The greetings from our partners INRA – France, INIA – Spain and RIPB – Saint Petersburg expressed the conviction that success in genetic diversity can be achieved in the conditions of good working coordination and thematic integration by means of exchange of germplasm, information and knowledge.
Let us pay tribute to the bright personalities in the history of agricultural science in Sadovo. Let us admit the power of unity of action that marked with success the beginning of enlightenment and science in Bulgaria. Our people and our country had the right to feel proud back in the dawn of our second re-birth as a state with people like K. Malkov and a whole pleiad of scientists dedicated to their motherland. Today, more than ever, their lesson on patriotism, civil consciousness and dedication in the field of science and agriculture is a priceless present for our generations on the way to progress and harmony with nature.