An inherited land became a key factor for the development of a family business... Vasil Chikov’s grandfather bequeathed to him several acres in the area of Trudovets village, near Botevgrad, and asked him to cultivate it and harvest its “golden” fruits. Five years ago, Vasil and his wife, Desislava, decided to make a sharp turn in their careers and set to farming. They carefully examined all the possibilities and focused on a culture that was not typical for our lands. They bought saffron crocus bulbs from the Netherlands and planted them in 2015 without even knowing if they would grow well. The very first harvest was promising. Research at a French laboratory showed that the saffron was of excellent quality, and this motivated them to expand the plantation, as the bulbs also grow in number every year. This is how Fante Agro started its development.
Risk and Experiments
Since they were not afraid of working nor risking or experimenting, they took another bold step. Instead of exporting the raw material, they decided to find ways to close the cycle through processing that brings higher added value. Desislava Chikova was interested in the novelties in cosmetics and this awakened passion for creating cosmetic products with saffron. She contacted professionals who could support them with know-how. Assoc. Prof. Petko Denev from the University of Plovdiv assisted them in extracting saffron by lyophilization, and together with cosmetologists, they developed the specific formulas of the products. And in order to have something really unique, they added Bulgarian rose oil, which has a proven beneficial effect on the skin. They combined the two most valuable flowers, grown in Bulgaria, and intertwined the familiar with the unconventional.
Farming became our destiny that started as a hobby but grew into a calling. The risk we took was decisive. With taste, sense and instinct, we were able to create quality products, Desislava and Vasil Chikov share. They found a market for their products first in Bulgaria – online, at exhibitions and through social networks. They were well accepted in the Arab countries, and now even in China, the US, and Canada. A small part of the saffron remains for culinary purposes; everything else is lyophilized and used as an extract in their cosmetic series under the Saff brand.
The Formula for Success
Enormous effort, no compromise in meeting the set goals for organic saffron cultivation, as well as high quality cosmetic products. This is how Fante Agro ranked among the manufacturers who care about Bulgarian production and enter the global market with a clear conscious as “Made in Bulgaria”. Their certification as bio-producers is soon to be acquired.
They jumped into farming without any experience. They had no practice in creating cosmetic products, either. But in both directions, they were successful. Even without subsidies, as there is no agricultural support for saffron cultivation. “When you take a risk, you either win or lose – if we knew what was ahead of us, we wouldn’t have got that far,” Desislava says. But both young entrepreneurs are happy that their products with the Saff brand are demanded, and their bold vision for development is quickly being realized.