Capacity Development of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia: a FAO/ADA project

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors in Georgia, currently employing over half of the total workforce in the country. Even though food production has significantly increased for the past few years, productivity, as well as the low quality of seeds, still remain one of the key challenges of the sector.

In their common goal to reduce rural poverty, the Government of Georgia, the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), are joining forces to support the rehabilitation of the seed sector of Georgia, in the frame of an ongoing FAO/ADA project entitled “Capacity Development of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia”.

The recently approved Strategy for Agriculture Development in Georgia for the period 2015-2020 focuses on increased competitiveness, productivity, and seed quality in the sector. 
The availability and access of seed to small farmers is the main goal of a well-functioning seed sector. Among areas identified as priorities there is a need to develop an enabling legal framework (seed law) and its regulations such as an evaluation system for varieties, catalogue of seed varieties, minimum standards for seed quality and, scheme for seed certification .

FAO is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia in developing the legal and technical aspects that will set the base for a better structured seed sector as a means to obtain better quality seed for Georgian small farmers in the near future.
FAO has assessed the current situation in the seed sector and conducted a stakeholder analysis, providing a set of recommendations that include the establishment of a seed certification system compliant with international standards.

The Ministry of Agriculture welcomed this initiative and mandated the Agricultural Scientific and Research Centre (SRC) to establish the Seed Certification System in Georgia. An action plan, including roles and responsibilities, was prepared and approved, and FAO has started providing technical assistance and capacity building for the first certification of seed in Georgia in decades. 
FAO started demonstration plots for the first production of certified wheat seed that is in accord with the scheme of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) .FAO experts will conduct training for future seed inspectors as well as farmers interested in seed production.

Consultations with both private and public actors, from farmers to seed companies and seed dealers, have taken place, and as a result the draft Seed Law was presented on the 27th of March of 2015, with a significant representation of the majority of the stakeholders active in the seed sector. A final draft of the Seed Law is expected for June 2015.

ADA and FAO are convinced that the successful implementation of a seed certification system is one of the keys to boost the agricultural production in Georgia. The production and the regulated import of quality seed will considerably help small farmers to increase their productivity and will contribute significantly to the reduction of rural poverty in the country.


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