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What is Agriculture?

Agriculture is the artificial cultivation and processing of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of much denser and more stratified societies.

Modern agronomy, plant breeding, pesticides and fertilizers, and technological improvements have sharply increased yields from cultivation, but at the same time have caused widespread ecological damage and negative human health effects. Selective breeding and modern practices in animal husbandry such as intensive pig farming have similarly increased the output of meat, but have raised concerns about animal cruelty and the health effects of the antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals commonly used in industrial meat production. Compare to developed countries, more or less Georgian people eat healthier food especially those in country side, like my family. People have small plots where they grow necessary fruits and vegetables for their own consumption. I will give you small introductory of agricultural sector in Georgia.

Agriculture in Georgia

Fruit and Vegetables

The diversity of climate and soil in Georgia  creates favorable conditions to grow almost all kind of fruits and vegetables. The following regions are considered to be the main F&V producers: Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Shida Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Imereti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Guria, Adjara. The main fruit and vegetables grown are apple, pear, peach, apricot, cherry, plum, citrus, grape, pomegranate, tomato, cucumber, potato, eggplant, cabbage, lettuce, carrot, beet, bean, onion, and garlic. Georgia’s transition to the market economy has been intermittent and incomplete. Lack of access to markets, scarcity of rural credit, and limited earnings have driven farmers to near-subsistence levels. Land privatization has been progressing slowly and, at present, most arable land and perennial plantations are in private hands. Most farmers grow fruit and vegetables for home consumption, with little excess production for sale. With an average land holding of 1.25 hectares, ninety percent of farmers are not involved in commercial agriculture, further hindering development of the industry by failing to attract the attention of financial institutions, major multinational input and equipment suppliers, and world class food processing enterprises. During the last fifteen years, the Georgian fruit and vegetable-growing industry has suffered badly due to social-economic problems, including poor supply of pesticide and fertilizer, high price of fuel and power, outdated agricultural machinery, damaged irrigation systems, scarcity and high cost of credit to farmers in agro-industries, lack of market information available, small and fragmented nature of farms, and poorly-planned environmental mitigations that actually destroyed fields. In recent years, the Russian embargo on Georgian agricultural production has had negative implications for F&V sector development, particularly as Russia is a natural market for Georgian fruit and vegetables production. 

Despite these challenges, the F&V sector has begun rehabilitation. There is a growing demand for fresh produce on the local market. Farmers realize that there is an opportunity to provide the local market with fresh and processed production and at the same time to compete with imported fruit and vegetables. Farmers and processors have also begun seeking new opportunities and new markets outside Georgia, which has created high demand for the introduction of new technologies, Western-oriented business organizations, market-oriented production, cost effective business models, and international standard compliance. Because of diverse soil and climate conditions, different kinds of fruit and vegetables are grown in different regions of Georgia. To be competitive on both domestic and international markets, growers need technical assistance at each stage of the production cycle, to replace outdated approaches to fruit and vegetable production with new, modern methods. Despite the fact that vegetable production is one of the most profitable fields in the Georgian agricultural sector, the cost of production is extremely high. This is the main reason that many producers abandon the sector and, at present, only the most experienced and professional farmers manage to survive.  


Almost all kinds of vegetables are grown in Georgia, although the varieties differ in regard to climate zones. Potatoes hold a large share of total vegetable production, followed by tomato, cucumber, eggplant and different kinds of cabbage, along with carrot, beet, and greens.  Vegetable growing greatly suffers due to the high price of high quality vegetable seeds, limited choice of fertilizers and plant protecting means, lack of sources of energy, and high cost of spare parts for agricultural machinery and fuel. All these problems badly affect vegetable crop yield and quality. Despite these difficulties, farmers continue to supply significant quantities of fresh vegetables to local markets, particularly in season.

Culinary Herbs

Many varieties of annual and perennial herbs and medicinal plants are grown in all regions of the country, and are highly demanded both for Georgian cuisine and by nearby export markets. Georgians grow many kinds of herbs on personal plots, either in towns or villages on their own, including: coriander, dill, parsley and celery. Farmers’ markets in east Georgian cities are mainly supplied with various kinds of culinary herbs from the districts of Gardabani, Marneuli, Bolnisi and Kakheti. Imereti District is the major supplier for the markets in west Georgian cities. The Imereti region produces more than ninety percent of Georgia’s total culinary herbs output during the off-season period (November-May). The greens sector has grown significantly during the last five years. This industry is estimated to provide income for 30,000 farmers. In addition, packaging, freezing, transportation and wholesale industries are major export revenue earners. Off-season greens are produced mainly in tunnel-type greenhouses. They are spread all around Kutaisi City, where approximately 8,000 greenhouses are located. The yield for greens varies between 25-30 tons per single hectare of greenhouse. Because of the favorable climate in the area, these greenhouses virtually do not need to be heated, which helps make production price-competitive. It is worth mentioning that out-of-season greenhouse vegetable production in general and herb production specifically offer the largest income per hectare for Georgian farmers. Also important is the fact that this is a labor-intensive activity, employing large numbers of laborers at all levels of the value chain.

Greenhouse Production

There are two types of greenhouses in the country: wooden and steel. About eighty percent of existing greenhouses are wooden with polyethylene and twenty percent are steel greenhouses with glass. Wooden greenhouses require less upfront investment than steel, however every two years the polyethylene in wooden greenhouses has to be changed. This means that the maintenance cost of wooden greenhouses is high. Most newly built, commercial greenhouses are equipped with modern technologies (drip irrigation systems, fertilization, and climate control). The main problems for greenhouse farmers are the lack of knowledge of modern cultivation practices, lack of access to quality inputs, poor business and marketing skills and the generally small scale of production, limiting marketing options and constraining income for future investment. At present, there are no commercial-scale greenhouses/nurseries for vegetable seedling production. It is evident that in conformity with development of open field production and greenhouse off-season vegetable production, the demand for high quality seedlings will continue to gradually increase. Growers will need technical assistance in production planning, seed selection and propagation technology, and, most importantly, in business management. 

Post Harvest Handling

As mentioned above, almost all sorts of fruits and vegetables are grown in Georgia. The domestic market is supplied with fresh produce during the harvest season, but there are some gaps during the year, when imported vegetables replace locally grown products. The main reason is the lack of storage and post-harvest handling practices among domestic producers. Growers do not have resources to store vegetables and supply the market year-round. In addition, much produce is shipped for export without sorting, grading, washing, or proper packing. As a result, Georgian produce is often not competitive in the higher value distribution channels, such as supermarket chains and importers.

Fruit and Vegetable Processing Sector

The Georgian processing sector was once one of the most highly developed sectors of the food industry, and considered to have the best export potential among other industrial fields. The sector produced a wide range of products highly demanded in Georgia, as well as beyond its borders. The current processing sector for fruit and vegetables, however, is rather poor. While the fresh produce market currently has more value in the aggregate, there are many opportunities for production of value-added F&V products, for example, juices, jams, pastes and specialty sauces, such as Georgian Tkemali and Adjhika.

The crisis in the processing sector affects canning opportunities as well. Due to difficult political-economic conditions created after 1990, fruit and vegetable storage facilities and canneries were closed temporarily. Apart from that, locally-produced produce was not competitive, as it did not correspond to market demands. There are more than seventy-five small- and medium-scale, and about fifteen large-scale canneries functioning in Georgia, and over thirty refrigerators of different sizes left, but all of them have the same problems: outdated machinery, destroyed buildings, and equipment that must be changed or rebuilt, with modern technological lines introduced (Source: The World Bank Analysis). In addition, high prices for electricity and fuel, shortage of packaging means, and high tariffs, taxes and customs duties created low interest for farmers to develop the processing sector. Due to the problems mentioned, canneries work only at fifteen to twenty-five percent of capacity.  At the same time, the local market is abundantly supplied with imported preserves as there is high demand for processed fruit and vegetable products. This illustrates the opportunity for a successful domestic processing industry.

Recently, a considerable share of the canning industry has become privatized. This fact enables entrepreneurs to develop their own enterprises and introduce modern technologies. This is a rather important fact, as Georgian canneries specializing in fruit and vegetable processing now have the opportunity to improve their competitiveness in foreign markets. 


Currently, the Georgian F&V sector faces many challenges caused by numerous social-economic issues. Improving local varieties, establishing appropriate infrastructure, and applying modern technology for small pre- and post-harvesting facilities are just some of the issues with which Georgia farmers are contending. Fruit and vegetable processors also face significant challenges, including the development of efficient raw material supply lines, raising production practices to international levels, developing new products and "conquering” new markets. The Georgian F&V sector is still in a period of transition, recovering from numerous political and economic shocks and transitions.


Georgia is a mountainous country that stimulated the development of livestock production long ago. Favorable climate conditions allow livestock to be raised in almost all areas of the country.  Livestock production has always been an important part of Georgia’s agricultural sector and of the national economy as a whole. The country’s reputation in the dairy industry for the production of a range of traditional dairy products is well known, and on the local market, Georgian-made dairy products have a distinct edge over imports.

Economic transition since the early 1990s has significantly affected the livestock sector in Georgia. Prior to the transition, livestock production was organized in large, centrally-managed units with several thousand heads of cattle per farm. Subsequent privatization of these collective farms resulted in the fragmentation of production units, and changed small-scale farming into subsistence agriculture. The daily cash income of rural households became largely dependent on sales of livestock products, especially milk, cheese and meat. The transition has also increased the number of livestock in the private sector and raised interest in feed crops.

In the years since independence, there has been a major shift in milk production to the private sector, and specifically to small-scale or family-level farms. Today, nearly 100 percent of milk produced in the country comes from household-level private farmers, and more than one million individuals in Georgia’s rural areas derive some portion of their income from milk production and/or small-scale dairy processing. In many communities, particularly in Georgia’s mountainous areas, livestock agriculture is the main, or even the only, source of rural income. Though the sector suffers from many constraints, the sheer number of individuals involved in the dairy sector makes its development a necessary cornerstone of any effort to improve rural living standards. The dairy sector is both largely unregulated and largely unsupported by the government of Georgia. Although there are widespread concerns about the impact of a new food safety law (still pending), dairy production, and, to a lesser extent, dairy processing, occur outside the formal economy, at the household- or family-farm level. This translates into a low level of professionalism among individuals involved in the sector, with most producers relying on traditional husbandry practices and technologies. Few of the country’s industrial dairy processing enterprises have managed to raise the investment needed to modernize and continue operations following privatization, and, though the handful still operating manages to supply milk and other dairy products to Georgia’s main urban markets, even in these markets as much as forty percent of dairy products are imported. Though these large-scale companies are fairly advanced in terms of processing technology, packaging and marketing, they have suffered from the fragmentation of the raw material base and have had difficulty establishing reliable supply relationships with producers, coming instead to rely heavily on imported milk powder. Due to unmet domestic demand, there has been a significant expansion in dairy processing conducted by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in recent years. Approximately seventy percent of all cheese in Georgia today is produced by SMEs. These enterprises face many of the same development challenges as dairy producers, including out-dated or inadequate technical skills, a lack of market knowledge, and limited financial resources. On the other hand, their small size and lack of capital requires them to utilize locally produced raw milk rather than turning to imported milk powder, and, as a result, these enterprises are becoming increasingly important markets for Georgia’s dairy farmers. Critical to these expanding linkages between producers and small-scale processors has been the recent development of needed marketing infrastructure, especially milk collection stations.


Most herds of livestock in Georgia are mixed breeds by origin. Many new varieties have been introduced to Georgia from Denmark and the Netherlands, but most have encountered health problems during the adaptation period and not survived. There is a potential to promote local Georgian breeds and increase their milking capacity, while also identifying and assessing which non-indigenous breeds are suitable and easily adapted to the Caucasian climate. The introduction of modern Artificial Insemination practices would also be beneficial for the survival of indigenous Georgian breeds.

Feed Production

Dairy production is concentrated near grain producing areas and in locations with natural pastures, although large-scale livestock farms also have large silage pits. Under the centrally-controlled production system, fodder production and conservation systems were primarily adapted to the prevailing labor management practices, and therefore were not geared toward optimizing the utilization of resources and maximizing quality. Proper feed management is needed to increase milk production. 


Georgian farmers milk their cows twice a day, in the early morning and evening, when the cows come back from the pastures. Farmers do not use any modern milking equipment, as farm sizes are too small to require or support it, but the lack of modern equipment leads to safety problems. This is also an issue with small-scale processed dairy production, where lack of pasteurization leads to serious health problems, including tuberculosis.


Development of the dairy sector will be driven by modern, efficient and competitive large- and small-scale dairy processors, able to meet domestic demand both in terms of quality and volume, thereby displacing the significant market share currently occupied by imported dairy products.


Livestock production is both a long tradition and promising future field in Georgian agriculture.  At present, it represents a major source of rural food security and income for Georgian farmers. During Soviet times, this sector was heavily developed, with large scale collective and state farm operations. Livestock production was organized in large, centrally-managed units, with several thousand head of cattle per farm. Subsequent privatization of these collective farms resulted in the fragmentation of production units, which changed small-scale farming into subsistence agriculture. Today, the livestock sector is mostly represented by family-operated smallholder farmers with 1-5 cows, pigs or sheep per household. Economic transition since the early 1990s has significantly affected the livestock sector in Georgia. The daily cash income of rural households became largely dependent on sales of livestock products, especially meat. The transition also increased the number of livestock in the private sector and raised interest in feed crops. A slow process of commercialization is developing, but specialised farms are rare since markets are considered too risky to depend on one commodity alone. Today, the Georgian livestock sector has many weak areas which require special attention and support, but development is very dependent on adequate infrastructure, inputs, and services. 

Livestock production has always been an important part of Georgia’s agricultural sector and of the national economy as a whole.  The diverse geography of Georgia makes livestock agriculture one of the few activities that is common across the country. The climate creates favorable conditions for livestock breeding in most of the country, and most notably in the lowlands. A large percentage of the population is engaged in small scale livestock farming, which is the main source of income in mountainous regions. There are producers of every size in the livestock sector: smallholder (for family consumption), and medium- and large scale for commercial production.   Private households are engaged in meat and milk production for family consumption, with only a very small quantity of surplus sold. These families typically own 0.5 to 1 hectare of land, which is mostly used for grain production to be used as livestock feed. This limits the maximum quantity of cows or pigs to 1-5 animals, including young stock. Medium-sized farmers generally have 30-100 cows, and their livestock graze on state-owned pastures. However, production of forage crops for conservation for the winter months is restricted by lack of appropriate silage-making equipment.

The country’s reputation in this industry for the production of a range of traditional products is well known, and when they are available on the local market, Georgian meat products have a distinct edge over imports. Yet imported beef dominates the meat case in retail markets. The main sources of imported beef and pork are European countries, Brazil, Argentina, and to a lesser extent India. Consumers are dependant on high-cost imported beef, as domestic supply is inconsistent and insufficient to meet demand. The safety and quality of domestic meat products at supermarkets is often inconsistent as well, which reduces loyalty to Georgian meat versus imported.

Livestock farming in Georgia is characterized by low productivity per animal. The primary issues responsible for this deficiency will be combated through improved animal genetics, pasture cultivation and management, production of forage crops, and animal care, including indoor feeding. Livestock feeding in Georgia continues to be based on traditional practices of grazing on natural pastures.  As a result, farms in Georgia are largely concentrated near grain-producing areas and in locations with natural pastures, although some large-scale livestock farms also have silage pits. Under the centrally-controlled production system, fodder production and conservation systems were primarily adapted to the prevailing labor  management practices, and therefore were not geared toward optimizing resource use and maximizing quality. Proper feed management is needed to increase milk production and meat quality.


The Georgian livestock sector is in a period of transition. Medium- to long-term economic viability is unknown in this sector, which is still suffering from many challenges.  Although the number of livestock is quite high in some regions, productivity remains rather low across the country. The main reason is poor performance of domestic varieties, as they tend to be undersized and suffer from poor weight gain.  Lack of quality forage and the reality of poor veterinary service provision also represent considerable challenges.

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