In The Land of Samsthe-Javakheti, Where the Potatoes Grow
03 October, 2016
In The Land of Samsthe-Javakheti, Where the Potatoes Grow
From my experience, media tours usually tend to turn out as either dreadfully boring or very fun, in both cases missing the main point of the undertaking – providing media people with some hands-on knowledge on the matter they’ll be producing stories about. Make it too boring and facts & stats heavy and you get equally dull material, go all-in into fun part and well, as the popular meme goes, ain’t nobody got time for stories and that. Thankfully, the media
tour organized by ENPARD (European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (my head aches every time I have to spell it out like this) in Georgia hit the solid, if somewhat unspectacular golden middle – being informative without being dull on a subject that could really use some serious media boost. That is, agrotourism, cooperatives and all the European know-how we’ll have to learn and adopt to access the European market and make our agriculture at least somewhat sustainable. More on that later.

But first, on the destination. Samtskhe-Javakheti is a rocky and hilly land, and while the stark beauty of its landscapes is breathtaking, there are very few cultivable fields. That is especially true for places like Tsalka and cities of Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki. This limitation has prompted the local farmers and entrepreneurs to narrow down the list of possibilities and specialize, resulting in potato coming up highest in the production chain, becoming somewhat synonymous with the region as a whole. And indeed, it would be fair to say that our media tour had its fair share of sightseeing focused exactly on this particular vegetable.
Our first stop was at “Khulgumo”, the cooperative specializing in potato cultivation. The cooperative consists of 20 people (16 women, talk about gender equality!), which stands as a higher than usual number of workforce as far as these newly hatched cooperative enterprises go, we were told. Unlike it Soviet times, when “cooperative” approach was forcefully imposed upon people, in modern Georgia, incentives of creating a cooperative (or enrolling into one) are somewhat murky and less than sustainable, so most of these cooperatives are boosted by external funds by donors and government. The folks at “Khulgumo” jointly work on some 30 hectares of land and to help them in this undertaking, Mercy Corps, one of ENPARD’s implementing partners has supplied them with a tractor and trailer, together with necessary machinery, all of which they proudly presented to us. The bolstered cooperative, we were told, registered a significant increase in production output, with 8-10 tone margin of annual per hectare production skyrocketing to 30 to 45 tones. Potatoland ahoy!
Our next stop was at “Five Stars 2010” cooperative, which specializes into… potato cultivation. Well, I warned you. But jokes aside, this was a neat place and I imagine the welfare of more than 20 families depend of how well the cooperative is doing, so my best wishes to them. “Five Stars” were also not without problems: shortage of high-quality seeds and fertilizers meant they were scoring not so high on production charts. The arrival of ENPARD and Mercy Corps changed at that, with the farmers getting their hands on E-class potato seeds and fertilizers, which in turn enabled them to considerably increase the level and quality of their production.

Cooperative “Moskhi”, next in line and first of its name, was established through the combined efforts of 4 people living in a village of Tsnisi. The cooperative is engaged in production of :dramatic music: :drums: potato! But not only that: it also produces onion, carrot and beetroot. This was one of cooperatives that hadn’t yet received an assistance from ENPARD & Mercy Corps duo, though the blessing spell has already been cast: The cooperative stands to receive the assortment of agricultural aggregates – sowing combiner, base creator, spray equipment and onion harvester. The amount of grant is just short of 15000 USD.
Farmer’s service center “Serioja Ezoyan” proved to be the most interesting of stops for me, and that’s not just because of fairly hilarious name that it shares with its owner (Ezoyan means the owner of an yeard in Georgian, so the cooperative’s name stands as Serioja, the owner of yard. Ha ha. Well, it seemed pretty funny that time). After visiting the first three cooperatives, I really wanted to see a place that would serve as sort of logistics hub for farmers. Well, the entrepreneur here owns its office, retail and storage facilities and provides pretty much all necessary assistance to the farmers- starting with seeds and medical supplies ending with plant protection products and fertilizers. So, a place of strategic importance both for farmers and their buyers. IF I could offer my five cents, I’d say in longer run, that Akhalkalaki would benefit with two of those, to increase the competitive aspect of the process. ENPARD and Mercy Corps supplied Mr. Ezoyan and co. with a vehicle to transport their goods making their products accessible to about 4000 farmers. Another good deliverable is that the center also offers information and consultation, as well as trainings in different fields. One could argue that the government should be doing that, which they do, but a helping hand from private entrepreneur is not to be shunned.

That wrapped up my account of day one, with day two consisting of a somewhat mundane presentation of what Enpard & the govt do in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. The speaker, Mr. Misheladze, was from govt sector and I had the feeling that his presentation was designers with donors and stakeholders in mind, rather than journalists. Well, it’s the government, what can you do. At least they try to do good things instead of bickering with opponents on TV for a change.

The saga ends with us visiting the agriculture exhibition presented by Mercy Corps, who rightfully deserve all the credits they are getting for implementing the ENPARD project. The scope of work they carried out is visible even for an untrained eye, and a fervor and enthusiasm they spoke with is certainly a thing of luxury these times. The exhibition was interesting, with, as we were told, more than 200 cooperatives presenting their trade (mostly potatoes. Sorry!), and tens of service providing companies offering their skills and competences to farmers and other actors involved.
In the end, this was, FRANKLY, one of the most productive media tours I’ve been in and I’ve seen my fair share of those. Not boring, not fun, but productive.

By Inga Mumladze
Other Stories
Business Positive – Successful radio program from Radio Positive
Starting point of radio program Business Positive is to meet interesting people, communicate with them and deliver information that is interesting for the audience.
A factory of electric vehicles to be built in Kutaisi
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated that a factory of electric vehicles will be built in Kutaisi at the presentation of the Aigroup business group.
Qvevri-shaped hotel complex to be built in Telavi
A Qvevri-shaped hotel complex is scheduled to be built in the village of Shalauri in Telavi, Kakheti (east part of Georgia).
Georgian designers presented at Fashion World Tokyo 2019
The products of 11 Georgian designers are showcased at Fashion World Tokyo 2019,
Silknet raises $200 million in Eurobond issue
27 March 2019 - JSC Silknet (“Silknet”), one of Georgia’s leading telecommunications operators, has successfully priced a debut $200 million 5-year 11% senior unsecured bonds issue (the “Notes”).
Pistachio trees will be planted in Georgia
Dozens of hectares of Pistachio are planned to be planted in Georgia this year.
Toyota Safety Sense and Hybrid Technology
Toyota Caucasus, has presented two new models the 5th generation RAV4 and the 12th generation Corolla at Rustavi International Motorpark, several days ago.
Bidzina Ivanishvili “became number one oppressor of businesses in Georgia” - ICC Georgia chairman Fady Asly
Mr. Ivanishvili promised the business community to protect them from harassment and pressure, unfortunately his words died with the sunset of that day
The best brands of Belarus will be exhibited on a large-scale exposition in Tbilisi
"The Belarusians like to come to Georgia to relax near the sea in Batumi as well as to stay in sunny Kakhetia."
Don’t treat business like a hooker! - Georgian businessman Vasil Soprpmadze addresses politicians
Businessman Vasil Sopromadze, founder of the company "Fresco", addresses politicians
RAV4 No Compromise and Corolla Set to Impress – Two New Cars Presented by Toyota
Toyota Caucasus, the company constantly aspiring to greatness, has presented two new models the 5th generation RAV4 and the 12th generation Corolla.
Mamuka Khazaradze quits TBC bank, does not sell the TBC Bank share
I made a decision to leave TBC bank where I spent 27 years of my life
10 Reasons to buy an apartment in the suburbs
There is a tendency for Tbilisi dwellers to move from central parts of the capital to the suburbs.
Georgian citizens are granted the right to work in France
The French Embassy in Georgia made remarks on granting Georgian citizens the right to work in France
The New York Times: Bitcoin declines but Georgia still bet on it
The New York Times has recently published an article about reasons, challenges and causes of generating Bitcoin in the former Soviet country Georgia.
EU to allocate € 13 billion for Eastern Partnership countries, including Georgia
The European Union together with the World Bank plans to allocate investment worth € 13 billion for infrastructure projects in the Eastern Partnership countries.
Anaklia Port and its importance for Georgia
In 2016, Anaklia Development Consortium was authorized to launch the construction of Anaklia Port.
Cryptocurrency mining threatens electrical network in Abkhazia
In the breakaway region of Akbhazia rampant cryptocurrency mining is threatening the shaky electrical network, reports an article of the news portal EuroNet.
Caucasus Wine University to be opened in Gurjaani
In the Kakheti region a new viticulture campus of the Caucasus University is in the process of planning.
Photos describing life of the poorest in Georgia
Fight with poverty should be among top priorities of every government in every country.
Training farmers to rescue the organic hazelnut production in Georgia
Even drizzling rain and unpleasant gusts of wind can’t prevent the farmers from coming and participating in the agricultural training.
Bleak times for organic farmers in Georgia – but there is hope
Organic hazelnut production is a delicate plant in Georgia that has emerged just a couple of years ago. Various pests, among them the Asian stink bug Parosana, trouble hazelnut farmers and menace their livelihood – even before their businesses could really take off.
Hybrid car imports are going through the roof in Georgia
Thanks to their fuel economy, the popularity of hybrid cars is increasing in Georgia, where fuel affordability is low and prices for fuel are unstable.
The New Year offer from MAQRO Construction - Apartments with unbelievable discounts and the parking spaces for FREE!
Location, green yard, spaces for various needs, experience of the construction company and parking space are the main important criteria for potential buyers of apartments.
Interview with the co-founder of Kiwi Vegan Café – the first vegan place in Tbilisi
Behind the Kiwi Vegan Café stands a group of activists who wants to raise Georgian’s awareness for animal rights and welfare.
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
Recently Toyota rolled out Global Campaign under this slogan that reflects the Olympic and Paralympic Spirit of Encouragement,
A couple from Switzerland combines Swiss tradition and technology with Georgian products. Their cheese is made in the Georgian mountains and sold in local stores and hotels.
It has been more than five years since the residents of Lilo village, near Tbilisi, cannot open their windows.
63 000 GEL was received by the Georgian Agro Export Group which is just a small part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural development.
Georgian entrepreneur Guka Tavberidze, who runs his own business in the UK and does it quite well, has been invited by BBC
The grand opening of 7-star The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi took place in Georgia’s capital on July 31.
DUSHETI, Georgia – The Georgian government and the World Bank will allocate USD 5.6 million (12 million GEL) to fund
A new Georgian clothing brand named Person has emerged in Georgian market.
Georgia is in the midst of an economic maelstrom, Euronews reports.
Situation at Georgia’s mineral water market is interesting: over the last year, the volume of export has grown by 56 percent. According to “GeoStat”, over $114 million worth of mineral water was sold
GEL Exchange
April 2019
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30