Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a working meeting with Otar Shamugia, Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, and his Deputy Ministers.
At the meeting, the Ministry’s plans for 2023 and key directions were discussed. Attention was paid to the implementation dynamic of the Development Strategy - Vision 2030 of Georgia.
The Minister and Deputy Ministers of Environmental Protection and Agriculture briefed the Head of Government on the key programs and projects to be implemented in the course of this year.
It was noted that work will continue on the key programs/projects implemented by the state for years, including the Preferential Agrocredit Program, Plant the Future, Agroinsurance Program, Program for Financing Storage and Processing Plants, Technical Assistance Program, and programs for supporting agricultural cooperatives.
In 2023, the budget of the Preferential Agrocredit Program has grown compared to the previous year to make up 200 million GEL. It is planned to issue over 10,000 loans with a total value exceeding 1 billion GEL. The goal of increasing the budget is to provide farmers and entrepreneurs with access to more financial resources, continuously and throughout the year, in terms of both preferential agricultural loans and agricultural leasing. Since 2013, almost 80,000 loans with a total value of 5 billion GEL have been issued.
In addition, 2013 will see a continuation of the trend of recent years which implies supporting the development of processing and storage facilities in the country. Along with the growth of the production of primary goods, the demand for setting up processing and storage infrastructure continues to grow. In 2023, as a result of the increase of the budget of the Targeted Program to 25 million GEL, the growing dynamic of producing more quality Georgian goods will continue. It is planned to finance up to sixty new processing and storage facilities. Notably, under these programs alone, the establishment of 217 processing and storage facilities, with their investment value making up 289 million GEL, has been financed with 106 million GEL since 2014. This has allowed for storing/processing goods in line with modern standards and market requirements.
Financing for planting perennial gardens will continue. Under the Plant the Future Program, the cultivation of several perennial plants is underway, and opportunities of replacing import with export are growing. Anti-hail and irrigation systems are being set up. Since the program’s launch, new gardens have been arranged to cover over 20,000 hectares. The program’s budget in 2023 is 35 million GEL, and it is planned to plant perennial fruit tree gardens on 3,500-4,000 hectares of land.
In 2023, the state will continue supporting agricultural cooperatives. To develop the infrastructure of agricultural cooperatives, the budget of targeted projects is growing to make up 5 million GEL.
With state support, under the targeted programs for supporting agricultural cooperatives, nine agricultural cooperative enterprises were created in 2022 to bring together more than 100 small farmers. State financing exceeds 4 million GEL. Agricultural cooperatives are now able to participate in every ongoing program of the Rural Development Agency, as part of which they, compared to other legal entities, enjoy 10% benefits of state financing, while state financing under special cooperative programs is set at 70-80%.
A total of 17 million GEL is earmarked for the Agricultural Equipment Co-Financing Program. Notably, on the Prime Minister’s initiative, the state allocated 50 million GEL in 2022 to finance agricultural equipment. To procure agricultural equipment, 66 million GEL in co-financing has been issued. Under the grant programs carried out by the state, the purchase of more than 4,800 units of agricultural equipment (power unit, trailer, harvester, and combine harvester) has been financed.
In 2023, the state program for promoting hazelnut production will be carried out for the first time. The program seeks to promote primary hazelnut production in Georgia by incentivizing owners and/or proprietors of hazelnut gardens. As of today, about 30,000 hectares of hazelnut gardens of over 68,000 beneficiaries are registered with the hazelnut cadaster.
To bolster the promotion of Georgian agricultural goods, including wine, about 16 million GEL will be spent in 2023. Active measures toward promotion and enhanced visibility will continue in Georgian wine’s strategic markets: the US, the UK, the Baltic States, China, Japan, and South Korea. Georgian wine will be showcased at every important international fair in the US and European and Asian countries. Notably, in 2022, 103,368,263 million liters of Georgian wine was exported to 66 countries around the globe, which is 28% more than in 2021.
In 2023, USAID—in agreement with the Georgian Government and with a view to promoting Georgian wine—plans to support marketing measures in the US, Germany, South Korea, and UK markets.
By the end of 2023, the area of hydro-ameliorated lands will reach 200,000 hectares, for which 65 million GEL will be spent from the state budget. With financing from international donors, the implementation of large-scale projects is planned beginning in 2023: the full rehabilitation of the irrigation network for 19,000 hectares in Zemo Samgori, for which 90 million euro will be spent (the European Investment Bank [EIB], the French Development Agency [AFD], the European Union [EU], and state participation). In addition, the World Bank—with its new 150-mmilion-USD project GRAIL (Georgian Resilient Agriculture, Irrigation and Land)—will improve water supply in an area of 26,000 hectares. The project is designed to ensure the development of sustainable and productive agriculture.
In 2023, USAID will launch the 5-year Resilient Communities Program with a value of 23.75 million USD, to assist the populations and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises along the administrative border. The 9-million grant program under the Resilient Communities Program by USAID will additionally attract at least 10,6 million USD from partners in the private and public sectors.
The implementation of phase 4 of the European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (55 million euro in 2021-2025), which provides Georgia with additional assistance in terms of ushering in food safety and relevant standards, so that consumer rights may be better protected in the country, and the export potential of Georgian goods into EU member states may increase.
Food product manufacturers will switch fully to the modern HACCP standard. Beginning in 2023, in line with the EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), food product manufacturers will switch in full to the modern HACCP standard, and this will foster the protection of consumer rights and upgrade the competitiveness of the business sector.
As for the direction of environmental protection, creating new protected territories and expanding existing ones is one of the key priorities of the Agency of Protected Areas of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.
As of today, the area of protected territories is 900,000 hectares, with over 246,000 hectares of new territories established in the past 2 years. The Agency of Protected Areas is working actively on the development of ecotourism in Georgia’s protected territories. In 2023, 20 million GEL in financial resources will be used to set up new ecotourism infrastructure and upgrade/rehabilitate existing one in various protected territories.
Under the grant agreement signed between the Ministry of Finance of Georgia and the German Credit Bank for Reconstruction (KfW), in the course of the next 6 years, 16.25 million euro in financial resources will be used for the establishment of new protected territories—including in Racha, Shida Kartli, and Kvereti—for building visitor and administrative facilities, equipping and developing administrations, developing ecotourism infrastructure, also for financing social and economic projects by local populations.
In 2023, to ensure the state’s environmental control, the capacities of the Environmental Supervision Department will be strengthened. In the direction of organizational development, it is planned to optimize central and regional structures. Upgrading of infrastructural and technical frameworks is underway, and so is the introduction of electronic systems, to ensure the effective prevention, identification, and uprooting of environmental offenses.
The process of forest inventory continues. In 2023, inventory will apply to a total of 215,000 hectares of forest areas.
In 2023, restoration work will be carried in a total of over 1,500 hectares.
To ease access to lumber resources and develop the forest products industry, in 2023, a total of almost 60 Business Yards will operate throughout Georgia.
Installation of automated meteorological, hydrological, and geological stations will continue across the country.
In 2023, it is planned to install 137 new stations. These stations will allow for expanding the monitoring network through providing precise and timely information. This network will cover the entire country.
The air quality monitoring network is also expanding. In addition to the existing stations, 9 automated air quality monitoring stations will be added.
To develop the fishing industry, in early 2023, concrete zones in about 10 locations will be identified for building aquacultural farms in the Black Sea water area. Expected production is set at about 50,000 tons. This will help attract large foreign and local investors and ensure a significant increase in fish production.
On the Georgian Government’s decision, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture will carry out important measures to rehabilitate contaminated areas in landfills previously brought about by the processing of ores containing arsenic in the village of Tsana, Lentekhi Municipality and the village of Uravi, Ambrolauri Municipality. Communication is underway with the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) on active engagement in relevant studies and project development.
In 2023, organizations subject to Extended Producer Responsibility will start collecting and recycling specific waste (waste oil, accumulator and battery waste, electric and electric device waste, tire waste), and set benchmarks will be reached.
In the direction of green economy, with support from the Swedish Government, active work on the development of circular economy strategy will continue in 2023.
At the working meeting, the Head of Government issued new assignments to the Minister and Deputy Ministers of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.