The FINANCIAL -- The association Elkana, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia organized an exhibition and conference this previous week. The key topics of the conference were Organic Farming Development Perspectives in the South Caucasus and QUALITY MANAGEMENT - the farmer produces what the market demands. The aim of this conference was to make Georgian bio products far more popular and show how to distribute them in European countries.
“These conferences held by Elkana and German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) are being supported by the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia. The aim of this conference is to introduce and exhibit biological products. All conference details: the promotion campaign, hiring of the exhibition hall and others are wholly financed by the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia. The investment amount is not known”, Mariam Jorjadze, Director of Elkana, the Biological Farming Association, declared to The FINANCIAL.
“The aim of GTZ is to help each Georgian farmer in producing high quality products which will be suitable to acknowledged world standards. Mostly these products are getting beaten and have problems even on the local market level. Georgian products are more expensive and are lower quality compared to distributed products and their sales indexes are not very high. This conference is being held for the successful solution to these problems,” Riner Neidhardt, the director of GTZ Agriculture Development Project, declared to The FINANCIAL.
According to Riner Neidhardt, this project aims to have the direct cooperation of Georgian farmers and to introduce novelties already existing elsewhere in the world.
“The company has a consulting centre in the regions of Georgia. The project also foresees the financing of Georgian farmers, but the company’s budget is not so great to be able to finance each farmer at this stage,” Riner Neidhardt said.
“Today the situation on the market is changed as the farmers have to produce those products which are greatly demanded by the consumers. For instance Elkana fosters the production of biological farm products without chemical contamination. These goods are highly in demand internationally if their biological condition is properly certified under internationally recognized rules and standards,” Riner Neidhardt added.
“Georgian biological products are already realized in the Georgian market, but their quantity is not enough yet to be distributed in European countries,” Mariam Jorjadze declared.
“Elkana is trying to make Georgian organic products popular and have the ability to compete with foreign ones in the European market in the future. Today Georgian organic products can not satisfy the standards acknowledged by the rest of the world,” Jorjadze added.
Elkana is an association which unites member farmers from the different regions of Georgia. The association membership is open to any citizen of Georgia interested in the development of organic farming in the country, as well as protection of the environment. At present Elkana unites 450 members. The company aims at the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the population of Georgia and the environmental protection through fostering the development of sustainable organic farming and increasing the self-reliance of the rural population.
According to Jorjadze, the conference is not dedicated to only Georgian biological products’ perspectives, but South Caucasus countries’ as well.
“Elkana has partners in Azerbaijan and in Armenia, they are taking part in this conference with foreign experts. The countries are trying to share their experiences and discuss organic market development tendencies and difficulties in the South Caucasus”, Jorjadze added.
According to Riner Neidhardt, today GTZ’s project is working in Shida Kartli on the development of apples breed improvement.
“The company is also working on the sorting of apple breeds and is offering new ones which are suitable for European standards. These new products are well sold compared to the old ones. Of course this does not mean that GTZ is against the traditional breeds. The main thing is that products must satisfy consumers’ demand: high quality and good taste. Products which are free of pesticides are more demanded by customers in Georgia, as well as in Europe”, Neidhardt said.
According to Mariam Jorjadze, Georgia must not be oriented on mass-produced products but high quality ones, which will then be exported abroad.
“Elkana knows that Georgian agriculture cannot begin to create simply bio products straightaway, but this aspect will need developing”, Jorjadze added.
“GTZ made detailed researches at the central super markets of Tbilisi and it seems that Georgian products are being represented in a small amount. This problem is mostly distinguished early in the spring, when imported fruits and vegetables occupy all Georgian markets,” Neidhardt declared.
“The problem is that good packing equipments do not exist in Georgia yet and farmers have a problem in keeping the products during the winter season. That is why Georgian marketing centres import foreign products from abroad,” Neidhardt said.
“Supposedly this conference, which is focused on country presentations and sharing of the information on achievements, problems, perspectives and cooperation opportunities in the field of organic farming in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as on the experience of organic market development in European countries will be successful and the country will soon see the positive results,” Jorjadze declared.