Pioneer Hybrid Maze Puzzles
20 October, 2011
Pioneer Hybrid Maze Puzzles

Whether or not Georgian government will compensate losses to farmers participating in the governmental Pioneer Hybrid Maize Program will become clear by the end of this month, the Ministry of Agriculture promises. 

Until then government insists that the hybrid maize program [aimed at cultivation of maize named Pioneer imported from the US to Georgia] is a success story enabling import-dependent Georgia to implement its first maize export this year and plans to expand Pioneer fields from 30 to 50 hectare next year.

The profit of the program is expected to be at least ten-times more than GEL 4 million spent on this program from the state budget, Bakur Kvezereli, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, said during his speech at Agriculture Committee of Parliament on September 30, 2011.

Kvezereli expects 470 thousand tons of maize harvest this year thanks to the Pioneer hybrid and 100 thousand tons out of the figure is supposed to be exported and bring about USD 40 million in the country while until this year Georgia has been importing USD 10 million worth maize.

According to Robert Revia, Head of Cartless, an agriculture company that handled with the import and dissemination of Pioneer maize in the governmental program, farmers beat a record this year by harvesting 15-16 tons per hectare this year unlike 2.5 tons [what was the maximum crop] in previous years.

Based on Kvezereli’s calculations farmers will probably enjoy USD 100 million totally through both export and local sales this year. And it is due to hybrid crop that the GDP in agriculture increased by 3% in the second and third quarters this year and the growth is supposed to be more than that in the last quarter of the year.

“Today we can say without hesitation that the maize program is a successful project and Georgia will become leading agriculture country thanks to maize export,” Kvezereli said and appealed to MPs to support expansion of the project and channel more funding from the state budget to this program next year. There is a pressing demand from farmers on purchase of hybrid maize seed, he accentuated.

However, oppositionist MPs having toured Georgian regions beforehand to monitor the questioned crop harvest results assure that the program was a total failure in some regions especially in Imereti, west Georgia, and farmers cannot afford even to pay-off the GEL 70-80 of loan they borrowed from the state in order to buy the Pioneer seed. Farmers have to clear the debt till December 7 of the coming year.

Oppositionist of the hybrid crop program find government responsible against farmers for the lamentable outcome of the program as government practiced a crackdown on farmers. They assure that governors of regions assigned by central authority pressed on farmers to participate in the Pioneer maize program. Therefore oppositionists demand from government to help farmers to bailout now.

According to Jondi Baghaturia, MP, Leader of Kartuli Dasi opposition party, the importer of the Pioneers seed must relieve farmers who faced losses from paying the seed price.

Christian Democrats went even further saying that government should compensate losses to farmers since they entangled farmers in the miscalculated program that did not meet even minimum of expectations and ended up in crop failure.

Independent agriculture experts say government did not discuss the hybrid maize program with the sector pundits to inquire how important the new hybrid really was. According to them, Georgia, having century-old traditions of maize cultivation had several sorts of perfect hybrids elaborated by Georgian scientists during soviet times when agriculture was blooming in Georgia and  exported lots of tons of Georgian hybrids that were in great demand for high crop harvest.

Georgian farmers say the underway crop failure is a result of not bad quality of Pioneer but a lazy farming practice. On the other hand, they believe the recently imported Pioneer seems no better than the well-probated Georgian sorts of maize been cultivated in the country for tens of years.

“If you take care after Georgian maize in similar way as the Pioneer maize program demanded, I mean fertilizing it in due quantities, keeping all due cultivation works like ploughing and weeding etc as frequently as scheduled Georgian maize would bring as much crop as the much trumpeted Pioneer maize and even more I guess,” a farmer from Guria region told Georgian Journal. “The problem is farmers cannot afford due amounts of fertilizers, on the other hand some are somewhat lazy and do not do all required cultivation works.”

Giorgi Chaduneli, a Spokesperson of Agriculture Ministry, assures that there was no loser in fact.

“Even those who are reported been at loss harvested at least 2.5 tons per hectare instead of 1.4 tons that was a usual statistics until this year in Georgia,” he told GJ.

According to him, government will draw out decision whether or not to bailout farmers who are reported were at loss in a week after the harvest will be completely gathered and program results summarized.

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