Geographical Indications

Tusheti guda cheese in the making

PROJECT: Support to sustainable value chains through the development of Geographical Indications in the dairy sector


Strengthening the sustainability of Georgia’s dairy sector by developing GIs and enhancing the GI national framework

For the last several years, the FAO Investment Center and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have been supporting governments and producers worldwide to attain Geographical Indications for traditional agri-food products. GI labels add value to such products, often translating into higher incomes for rural households, instilling a sense of pride in local foods and culinary heritages and opening up attractive job opportunities along the supply chain, especially for young people. Georgia has an abundance of delicacies whose unique qualities and reputation stem from their place of origin or “terroir”, making them the perfect candidates for GIs. FAO and the EBRD aimed to empower producers and their organizations to upgrade production practices to ensure food safety while also respecting traditional methods.

The project involved normative, technical and capacity building activities. It aimed to enhance the sustainability of the country’s dairy sector by developing GIs for two Georgian cheeses. The project also worked to enhance the GI national framework.

By investing in GIs, we are investing in protecting people’s know-how and food traditions for years to come. GIs are a unique form of intellectual property right, usually held by a community of producers, that recognizes and protects the link between a high-quality product and its place of origin. Well-established GIs can contribute to achieving SDGs 1, 2, 8 and 12 by breathing new life into rural economies, increasing producers’ incomes, protecting food diversity, guaranteeing quality and opening up new and exciting job opportunities, including in tourism and gastronomy. They also provide incentives to preserve Georgia’s rich biodiversity, natural resources and traditional production methods that make its agri-food products so unique.

The project:

  • Improved the GI national institutional framework;
  • Supported two dairy value chains (Sulguni and Tushetian guda cheeses) through the establishment, recognition and promotion of their GI status;
  • Improved backward economic linkages between selected agribusinesses and dairy farmers; and
  • Raised awareness of public and private stakeholders on the advantages and methods of sustainable GI schemes. 


  • Recognition of and cooperation between stakeholders around shared objectives was key:
    1. Among public authorities: Sakpatenti, the institution in charge of intellectual property, and the Ministry of Agriculture collaborated in revising the national framework and in recognizing the two pilot GIs, which were developed and registered in two years;
    2. Among value chain stakeholders: Cooperation between small producers and larger agribusiness companies is a winning match for GI development, combining producers’ traditional know-how with companies’ marketing expertise and outreach; the Georgian Dairy Association has played a key role in applying such an approach;
    3. Between public and private sector: Cooperation and a shared vision between the two can enhance the creation and preservation of public goods such as food heritage and rural development, and enable the identification of appropriate solutions agreed by all; food safety officers, for example, participated in constructive meetings with producers to discuss specifications and develop food safety guidelines.
  • Agreeing on the product’s specifications is crucial and deserves dedicated time, producer meetings and organoleptic tasting; in doing so, stakeholders were able to define rules, such as adjusting industrial packaging practices to better preserve the quality of Sulguni and preserving the traditional methods for Tushetian Guda, including the reduction of salt .
  • The involvement of a local grassroots partner with years of experience and strong networking relationships with producers, like the NGO Elkana, contributed significantly to achieving the project’s objectives and ensuring the sustainability of the GI national system, including its application to other products.
  • FAO’s in-country presence was important, as the Organization is well recognized in Georgia; FAO played an important role in facilitating interactions at the Ministerial level.
  • The partnership with National Geographic Georgia provided strong visibility locally and internationally, raising awareness on the topic of GIs and reaching a wider audience.  
Georgia landscape
Project contributing to:
this project contributes to SDG





European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Sakpatenti; Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia; Georgian Dairy Association; oriGin Georgia; Elkana (as national support implementer); and National Geographic Georgia (for communications)

Farmers, processors, agribusiness companies, small and medium enterprises, practitioners supporting rural development, rural communities, national authorities in charge of intellectual property or agriculture

Related links
Feature story
EastAgri project page
FAO Investment Center

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Local breeds are part of the equation Sulguni cheese