Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2024

World Food Day

Avtandil Marakvelidze

“Weather has become more unpredictable and we do not have a consistent water supply. This puts a lot of pressure on plants.”


In the Alazani valley of Georgia’s Kakheti Region, Avtandil Marakvelidze grows his vegetables and fruits on 22 hectares of land.  

“Weather has become more unpredictable and we don’t have a consistent water supply,” says Avtandil. “Sometimes it is available in excess, at other times we have a shortage. This puts a lot of pressure on plants.”  

Avtandil knew he had to find a way to work smarter with the water he had, but he didn’t have the funds to invest in modernising his equipment and processes. 

Then, in 2021, Avtandil received a grant that allowed him to purchase and set up drip irrigation technologies on his farm. “We are now able to measure moisture levels in the field and add only the required volume of water, which helps us save it,” he says. “Without these processes, we would find ourselves in a bad situation.”  

To get the most out of the grant – which is part of an EU programme to reduce rural poverty in Georgia – Avtandil has been working with FAO agronomists who guide him in implementing modern agricultural methodologies on his farm. As a result, Avtandil’s farm now features mulching and drainage holes.  

“Mulching slows down evaporation so we do not need to use as much water,” he explains. “It also protects plants from excessive rainfall.” And so does the drainage, he says, which makes sure less excess water accumulates in the fields that the plants can’t absorb. 

Additionally, the agronomists hold food safety trainings on Avtandil’ farm, so he’s up to date with the latest safety standards.  

Avtandil believes that interacting with modern technologies is essential for all farmers so they can decrease costs and use water efficiently. Plus, it ensures better production of safer goods, he says.  

One thing he’d like to see in the future is the development of a local weather station in his area, as it would help farmers manage water more efficiently, especially in light of climate change.  

“This way, we can know exactly what type of precipitation we will have and respond to it properly,” he says.  

Avtandil benefited from ENPARD, the EU’s European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development. With support from FAO and other implementing partners, its focus has been on building Georgia’s agriculture potential, creating economic opportunities for rural people, and improving food safety.