Planting the seeds of knowledge in Georgia

Isolda Kitesashvili in her fruit garden, Georgia, September 2011. (Photo: UNDP/Daro Sulakauri)
Isolda Kitesashvili in her fruit garden, Georgia, September 2011. (Photo: UNDP/Daro Sulakauri)

Isolda Kitesashvili became a farmer to help her family out of extreme poverty. Isolda used to be a doctor in Kakheti, a wine and fruit region in eastern Georgia. In the 1990s, she and her husband lost their jobs due to state funding cuts.

Isolda did not expect much success with her farming business. Things changed in 2008 when she joined the agriculture centre opened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kachreti, not far from her home village. Isolda’s fruit garden is now a model site where people come to learn about new farming methods. 

Highlights

  • Farmers represent over 50 percent of the Georgian workforce.
  • The agricultural centres helps farmers improve their farming methods and technologies, and increase their profits.
  • Member farms in Kakheti have increased their income by at least 55 percent.
  • More than 2,000 farmers now benefit from the centres.

"I spent 30 years being a doctor," said Isolda. "I still miss that part of my life but I see the future in being a successful farmer."

In 2008, UNDP initiated the establishment of the first agricultural centre in the region of Kakheti. The centre was established as a part of the local technical and vocational colleges, and teachers and consultants were selected from college staff to ensure quality instruction.

Consultants from the agriculture centre helped Isolda improve her farming methods, make her fruit garden business more profitable, and open a nursery to grow and sell fruit and blackberry saplings. Isolda discovered that modern-day farmers need computers as much as fertilizers, so she took computer classes. She can now do research about new technologies, as well as paperwork for accounting.

The agricultural centre also advises local farmers on animal husbandry, animal health, field crop production, viti and horticulture, mechanization, and bio farming.  The first three years made a difference, and income from the first 183 member farms increased by at least 55 percent.

Farmers represent over 50 percent of the Georgian workforce. Yet, the food and agricultural sector is weak and segmented. Most Georgian farmers do not have access to the knowledge or technical assistance needed to compete in today’s world.

However, with a first success in Kakheti, UNDP with funding from the Government of Romania and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has expanded the agriculture centres to other regions in Georgia.   

More than 2,000 farmers now benefit from agricultural services in different regions of the country. The centres provide advice on farming and basic business assistance to help farmers with accounting and taxation, legal matters, business plans, and leasing.

Access to these services provides new opportunities to small farmers like Isolda Kitesashvili, and equips them with knowledge and skills they need to bring new life to their villages.

“I hope to receive more help and knowledge from the agricultural centre and to have an even more successful farming business,” Isolda said.

Agricultural Centre in Georgia
  • Georgia's agricultural centre
  • Georgia's agricultural centre
  • Georgia's agricultural centre
  • Farmers at the consultation session.
  • Farmers at the consultation session.
  • Farmers at the consultation session.

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