The FINANCIAL — Imagine a farm without livestock. Right, it does seem unimaginable. There are many small farms in Georgia that are managed by individual households. Most of them just remain small with minor scale production mainly because of the lack of modern and efficient approaches in resource management, breeding and species selection.
Before jumping into launching any animal related bigger enterprise, one needs to accurately comprehend that animal husbandry is quite demanding in many ways. To set aside the sentiments related with small farming, one would need to be ready to continually monitor market trends to stay on the cutting edge; have the means to advertise and market the business; maintain a farm website; and drag livestock to expos, demonstrations, shows and sales events. Otherwise, becoming a breeder would most likely turn into a painful experience and it would be more reasonable for those households to think in terms of “pets” rather than “production”.
According to the Georgian National Investment Agency, the demand for meat consumption in country has an increasing trend. Around 25% of beef, 50% of pork and 80% of poultry consumed in Georgia are imported products. The records of Statistics Department show that the import of fresh and frozen meat reached 98 million USD in 2015.
Many will agree there is a need and capacity to build modern farms and supply local market and even think about exporting. The investors could easily benefit from the rising consumption on the local market, as well as take advantage of the Duty-free access to an over 900 million market under Free Trade Agreements with Turkey, Ukraine and CIS countries and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU.
Manager of Blauenstein Georgia, Ms. Tatia Arabidze told Experto Consulting that the founders of the company have identified this gap and saw a huge potential in livestock industry back in 2008: “Blauenstein Georgia was established by Mr. Max Blauenstein from Switzerland and his Georgian partner Mr. Irakli Kervalishvili with an initial investment of over GEL 15 million. The aim was to create a modern, Swiss quality type of farm in Georgian Mountainous Region Racha”. The company keeps a tight partnership with local population, they not only train and employ local workers, but also support farmers by teaching them contemporary farming techniques, giving cattle for farming and providing guidance in other ways. “We aim to create a pilot farm in every region of Georgia and promote local agriculture development, proposing jobs and high skilled professional training in farming and meat handling to local farmers. We also work on selecting and upgrading the profitability of local breeds of cattle, pigs and lambs with better daily cares and appropriate natural food”, stated Mr. Kervalishvili.
To keep abreast of latest developments in the industry, stakeholders of any particular field tend to gather around a certain event. Europe’s undisputed number one show for beef cattle and the national event for milk producers in the southern half of France, the Livestock Summit (Sommet de L’élevage) represents today an exceptional showcase of innovative French know-how in terms of animal production and genetics. First organized in 1992 in the predominantly livestock area of the Massif Central, the Sommet has, over the 25 years, successfully developed a loyal number of thousands of visitors that never fails to increase each year.
“On October 5-7, 2016 the Livestock Summit will host the Charolais breed National Show with the 400 best animals of the breed in competition and an auction sale, as well as the Holstein National show. We will also organize many other animal judging as 22 cattle breeds, 26 sheep breeds and 16 horse breeds will be on show during 3 days” revealed Mr. Benoît Delaloy, International Manager of Sommet de L’élevage. He further elaborated on the breadth of the event: “The fact that we shall be addressing animal nutrition, genetics, animal health and hygiene, milking and dairy equipment, services and equipment for livestock, farm buildings, renewable energies, agricultural machinery is a vivid indicator that our summit covers practically a full spectrum of subsectors associated with the breeding industry”. The summit covers 175,000 m² of exhibition space out of which 76,000 m² is net stand space: “Most importantly, this year we will have over 1,400 exhibitors, out of which 270 are foreign and they represent 28 countries”, explained the Sommet de L’élevage representative.
The renowned livestock event targeted numerous countries across the world but the Caucasus region has fallen under its direct radar only for the 25th ceremonious occasion: “We have partnered with Experto Consulting to spread the word about the Livestock Summit in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and we are delighted to have discovered that we could find potentially interested summit prospects in the Caucasus. Hopefully, in the coming years, the representatives from these countries will not only attend the summit but also be able to exhibit!” concluded Mr. Delaloy.
After learning about the Livestock Summit in France, Ms. Arabidze immediately signed up Blauenstein Georgia for the event as a participant to keep an eye on the latest developments in the field and use an opportunity to meet all major stakeholders from across the globe: “I hope in the near future we will be able to present the Georgian livestock at events with this magnitude. We are proud to be working on improving the genetics of the local Caucasian breed of cattle with the Schwyz and Simmental breeds that can reach 800-1100 kg on average in weight”.
Georgian cattle exports to Qatar and Saudi Arabia have exceeded USD 1 million in 2016, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Food Agency. Only this year, over 11 thousand Georgian sheep have been exported to the mentioned Gulf States. The National Food Agency at the Ministry of Agriculture carries out veterinary checks throughout Georgia in order to encourage the export potential of livestock. They monitor and carry out vaccinations for a variety of diseases. This significantly contributes to the livestock’s safety and increases export potential. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, the main importer countries of Georgian livestock are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, and Azerbaijan.
To conclude with mentioning the key component of livestock industry, slaughtering requires a complete different set of procedures and know-how. Fear and brutality produce stress in all living beings that results in tremendous production of adrenaline and toxins that will stay in the muscles of the meat after death which are eventually consumed by the humans. According to Ms. Arabidze: “By promoting responsible farming through respecting our animals, we respect our clients’ health”. One thing is for certain, Georgian population has become increasingly health conscious.