Eco-migrant from Georgia expands broccoli production with EU support

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The FINANCIAL — Georgian eco-migrant expands broccoli production with the support of EU and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). With the support of the EU and FAO, Georgian farmers not only get financial support but also receive advice and introduce innovations, which is very important.

The European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) have assisted Georgian eco-migrant Giorgi Abuladze to expand his broccoli farm. Abuladze has enlarged his broccoli farm in Tsalka, in eastern Georgia with support from the EU and FAO. He was able to plant broccoli on a larger plot and expand local vegetable production. He believes his yield will soon increase significantly and he will be able to sell his products to supermarkets, reported.

Giorgi Abuladze is an eco-migrant, who moved from an avalanche zone in the mountainous Adjara to Tsalka in Eastern Georgia in 2001. His family initially grew different vegetables: potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, and tomatoes. In 2017, Giorgi and his family shifted to broccoli growing. Georgia mostly imports broccoli from abroad and it is more expensive than other vegetables at the local market. Yet broccoli is in high demand throughout the year. Therefore, with support from the EU and FAO, Giorgi decided to plant broccoli on a larger plot and to expand local vegetable production.

It all started with filling out an application form, and then EU and FAO experts contacted the Abuladze family to find out their needs and future prospects. Based on this information, agronomists designed a demo plot, using Giorgi’s experience. Finally, with shared knowledge and experience, they started broccoli production on 0.35 hectares.

According to Giorgi, at this stage it would have been impossible for him to independently create all the necessary conditions for broccoli production.

“The agronomists helped me to get all resources necessary for growing broccoli. I expanded my land plot and could grow more broccoli. The EU and FAO not only helped financially, but also gave me the opportunity to learn and apply practically the latest methods,” he said.

FAO’s agronomy expert Demna Martsvaladze said that at this stage their team provided daily technical assistance to the Abuladze family.

According to Giorgi Abuladze, this is just a beginning of a long-term cooperation. Giorgi believes yield would soon increase significantly and he would be able to sell his products to chain markets. He is also planning to cultivate other crops using modern agricultural practices, and he hopes for the experts’ support.

Demo plots and field farmer schools are an important coomponent of the EU-funded FAO Support to the Georgian Agricultural Sector. Under this program, 19 demo plots have been arranged in six different regions of Georgia, and 11 different agricultural crops have been planted on a total area of 18 hectares.

Also, there is a EU supported Agro Center in Bolnisi that helps locals develop production. Guram Avkopashvili, the founder of “Brothers’ Cellar” and his brother Giorgi are the fourth generation of the family, who are engaged in viticulture and winemaking in Bolnisi. The brothers produce natural wine using the traditional Georgian method. Their new vineyards of “Chinuri”, cultivated in the village of Ratevani, Bolnisi Municipality, has been growing for five years.

The Agro Center opened in Bolnisi municipality in January 2020 as part of the EU-funded Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) initiative. The Center offers local farmers expertise and consulting in finance and accounting, as well as marketing and legal services. It also offers up-to-date packaging and labelling equipment meeting European standards. Here local farmers can pour their wine from kvevri, filter, bottle and label it. The Agro Center also gives farmers information and knowledge they need for professional development.

It is noteworthy that the project activities are based on a study of the municipality’s production capabilities, in which a cluster approach was used at the municipal level for the first time in Georgia. The study has identified a winemaking pre-cluster and showed the importance of developing agribusiness, tourism and building materials clusters and the need for establishing an integrated cluster. It also showed economic benefits of those business clusters.

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