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FAO in Georgia

Georgia at a glance

Georgia is located on the crossroad of Europe and Asia. It lays at the eastern end of the Black Sea, with Turkey and Armenia to the south, Azerbaijan to the east, and Russia to the north, over the Caucasus Mountains. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia’s total territory covers 69,700 square kilometers.

Population in Georgia is 3 729.5 thousand persons (as of first of January 2015). Official language is Georgian. There are just 14 independent alphabets in the world and Georgian is one of them. A large majority of Georgia’s population (83.9% in 2002) practices Orthodox Christianity. Country is unitary semi-presidential republic. Georgian currency is Georgian Lari (GEL).

Georgia is rich in agricultural tradition which is an integral part of its history, mentality and cultural heritage. Agriculture played an important role in formation of the Georgian statehood and contributed much to its economic development.

Georgia has favorable climatic and natural conditions conducive to development of agriculture. 43.4% (more than 3 million hectares) of the whole territory of Georgia is designated as agricultural land which also includes pastures and meadows. 43 % of the area is covered with forest.

Georgia has a wide variety of ecological and climatic zones favorable for the growth of different crops. Those crops include cereals, early and late vegetables, melons and gourds, potato, technical crops, grapes, subtropical crops, fruit variety etc. Georgia is one of the oldest wine producing regions of the world. The fertile valleys of the South Caucasus, which Georgia straddles, are believed by many archaeologists to be the source of the world’s first cultivated grapevines and Neolithic wine production, over 8,000 years ago.

From the climatic zones perspective Georgian biosphere is diverse. There are 12 different zones and 49 types of soils in Georgia. Many endemic species create a perfect source for the development of plant growing and cattle breeding. The country is rich in amelioration and potable water resources.

Georgia is characterized by altitudinal zonality. Only 39 % of arable land is located on elevation of 500 meters above the sea level, 29% - 500 -1000 meters above the sea level, 21% - 1000- 1500 meters and 11% is located over 1500 meters above the sea level.

From the farming industry standpoint, the diversity is accompanied with difficulties like temperature swings, active erosion and excessive precipitation in some regions. Natural hazards occurring in Georgia (earthquakes, floods, landslides, mudflows, abrasions, avalanches, hail, showering rains, gails, droughts, and etc.) harm agricultural production, and hence, the economy of the country.

Agriculture still accounts for about 52% of the country’s labor force while 98% of farm workers are considered self-employed. The current situation in agricultural sector significantly affects poverty indicators. According to GeoStat, the average annual salary of a farmworker amounted to only 64% of national average (2013). It is noteworthy that rural population does not have many alternative employment opportunities.

The income derived from hired farm work is increasing during the last years but its volume is still small, whereas income derived from the selling of agricultural produce constituted only 11.6% of the total income for the year of 2014, which indicates that agriculture production in Georgia is largely oriented towards self-consumption. Though, Georgia has untapped agricultural potential.

Georgia’s agriculture stands high on the Government’s list of priority sectors given its social, political and economic significance. The Government’s attempts to revitalize the country’s agriculture sector by providing increased state budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Agriculture are well supported by external aid.

Georgia is a member of WTO and has Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status with member countries. Georgia has GSP agreements with the US, Canada, Switzerland, Norway and Japan. Georgia has a free trade agreement with Turkey and Ukraine and preferential access to the most countries of the former Soviet Union. Georgia also has a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU, which implies that agricultural products exported from Georgia will freely reach the EU market.