Choporti Tomatoes Against Horticulture
10 March, 2011
Choporti Tomatoes Against Horticulture

Georgia with its climate varying from subtropical to alpine has always been an agricultural treasure. During the years of the Russian control it was a great boon for Russia to have a source of citrus, grapes and tea that did not require foreign currency payment.  Most of the agricultural land that is not devoted to tea, grapes, citrus and other fruits is used to produce vegetables, grains, primarily wheat and corn. Top secret of Georgian yummy vegetables and greenery is limestone

soil where they are grown and control of plant origin during many years which is primarily done in farmers’ families . However, one element is missing in the Georgian veggie production- olericulture which deals with the mass production, storage, processing and marketing of vegetables. It encompasses crop establishment, including cultivar selection, seedbed preparation and establishment of vegetable crops by seed and transplants. It also includes maintenance and care of vegetable crops as well commercial and non-traditional vegetable crop production including organic gardening and organic farming sustainable agriculture and horticulture; hydroponics and biotechnology. The dilemma here is that in mass production you will lose taste of famous Georgian brands like ‘Choporti (name of the place in Georgia) Tomatoes’. Under horticulture technology one can “artificially inseminate” flatfish gene with tomato gene and get a new cultivar selection of frost-resisting tomatoes. If this is the business case for Georgia then what could be done is “planet organic” for traditional cultivation of such selection like “Choporti”. The open question is: where is target market for such production along with many other questions? For example, can Georgia potentially conquer market and sales niche under the tough competition of mass production, where Israel, Holland, Turkey, Spain and Italy elbow one another. Among the country’s risk factors are porous agricultural borders, its location as a geographic gateway between Europe and Asia, chronic under-funding of Georgian agriculture and a lack of capacity of regulatory and cultivar selection enforcement agencies. One of the attempts to train experts in this field and make positive impact on “the greens agriculture” was GGCEMP – foundation in mid-90s of the International Center for Environmental Management and Planning between Georgian Academy of Sciences in Tbilisi and University of Georgia in Athens, Clarke County (USA).The project resulted in fiasco.

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