Agriculture Ministry report
20 February, 2014
Agriculture Ministry report
On February 13, Minister of Agriculture reported to media on recent achievements and short-term plans. The Georgian Government Open Management project entails monthly public reports from each ministry. According to Shalva Pipia, Minister of Agriculture, authorities continue a three-year project aiding small farmers in spring works. The project started in February 2013, and has already spent around GEL 184 million on 649 thousand farmers.
This year the project starts in the second half of February, and will subsidize spring farming
works for 800 thousand beneficiaries, at a cost of some GEL 90 million. The beneficiaries are divided into two groups: farmers with up to 0.25 ha of land, and farmers who own land within 0.25-1.25 ha.
Two kinds of vouchers will be disbursed: one called an “agriculture-work-card” subsidizing plowing work, and another “agro-card” – a plastic bank card actually – for the purchase of agriculture goods. The first category of beneficiaries will get the agro-cards only, while the second group will get both.
LLC Mechanizator, the state-based company providing service and consultation to farmers, and 112 contractor companies will be implementing plowing for beneficiaries, and start working in the Kvemo Kartli and Kakheti regions, while beneficiary farmers will get vouchers for state aid until the end of February. Meanwhile, Liberty Bank will start disbursing agro-cards in those regions where farmers already got agriculture-work-cards.
Moreover, the Minister reported that the Agriculture Project Management Agency commenced a project to co-finance agriculture product processing enterprises in regions where economic activity is sluggish. Over 100 legal and physical entities have already been registered for the project. Thirty of them have submitted applications and review of their proposals are underway.
As to the Preferential Agro-Credit Project, that involves state co-financing of banking credits for farmers and agriculture-related enterprises of GEL 260 million disbursed by 11 February 2014. The agro-credit project consists of seven components, and is tailored to the needs of farmers and entrepreneurs involved in agriculture; 63 new enterprises have already been built within the framework of the project.
Pipia also emphasized melioration and drainage system rehabilitation work. According to him, only 20-25% of trunk channels were cleaned in past years, while since 2013 the United Melioration System Company managed to irrigate 74.3 thousand ha of agriculture land.
Tangerine export accounted for 100 thousand tons in 2013 - a 40.6% increase compared to 2012. Government subsidized the citrus sector by GEL 13.8 million – by sevenfold exceeding the sum allocated in 2012. The export has been implemented to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Pipia also reported on the upcoming new Agriculture Scientific-Research Center. Georgian authorities have already worked out a project to set up this center that should enable agriculture in the country by promoting its potential as much as possible.
According to Pipia, ex-Premier Bidzina Ivanishvili donated his plantlet growing enterprise in Jighaura village near Tbilisi to the state. It comprises 54 ha of land where new specimens of vines and fruit trees are grown. The Minister mentioned that the recently created Agency on Agriculture Cooperatives’ Development will encourage cooperation in regions through different state programs.
Pipia indicated that since 2013 the Agriculture Ministry has practiced stricter food control through its Food National Agency. The Agency will be inspecting up to 500 canteens at schools, 80 slaughter-houses, 16 agriculture markets, 20 public feeding outlets, 40 milk processing companies, and 16 meat and meat product trade outlets.
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