Those who visit the Lagodekhi Municipality looking for a woman farmer whose family is engaged in various activities at the local level, would be definitely referred to Ludmila (Luda) Manuilova.
After visiting abandoned villages in Georgia with her spouse, Luda, a Tbilisi-born doctor, decided to start an agribusiness in Kakheti. Thus, Luda’s efforts, paired with the experience of her Greek husband with agricultural background, and the fertility of the Georgian land, have made them a well-known farmer family today.
The family moved to Kakheti eight years ago, with just one combine harvester, yet lots of plans and ideas, and they turned their land into an exemplary farm. The husband and wife are very similar, both aspiring to development and growth. Luda recalls that it was their unwavering interest and love for agronomy that brought them in an EU-funded project implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO support to the Georgian agricultural sector under the ENPARD III programme envisages three main types of assistance, namely, provision of technical assistance to the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia and its agencies; provision of matching grants to individual farmers, cooperatives, rural entrepreneurs, SMEs and municipalities, and implementation of activities for piloting the expansion strategy.
Luda says Georgia has a great potential, but farmers cannot get proper yields due to outdated approaches and the lack of tangible or intangible resources. Luda’s family currently offer equipment to local farmers, and grow corn on an area of 50 hectares as part of the EU project. Over the past two years, with the support of FAO agricultural experts, the family have increased yields by 40% and reduced costs by 30%, which illustrates the benefits of modern approaches, such as minimum tillage practices that are more fuel- and time-saving than traditional tillage methods.
“We, local farmers, often fail to grow enough product because the demand is always high and the supply is relatively small. Thanks to the EU and FAO support, we solved some problems on our pilot plots. With less financial or human resources, we could grow more crops, free from the impact of climatic conditions and pests”, Luda Manuilova says.
As the woman farmer told us, yields in Kakheti greatly depend on the climate, namely, droughts have a detrimental effect on the harvest. Irrigation systems are vital yet a luxury for ordinary farmers. One of the objectives of the EU and FAO experts is to help local farmers get the best outcomes while using the fewest resources. Along with individual advice, the experts conduct trainings for introducing the farmers to new agricultural methods and technologies that could make their work more efficient.
A farmer’s day is scheduled in Lagodekhi this summer where project representatives and farmers would share their news. Of course, Luda is actively involved in the preparations. The project team are also expecting news from the female farmer - the family has just received a 60% EU’s matching grant for purchasing equipment to produce silage. Silage is a biological fodder for cattle, and Luda’s family already purchased part of the equipment abroad, yet now they need a wrapping machine that would increase the silage storage time to five years. Luda’s company will provide about 70% of silage produced in Georgia.
The Georgian woman farmer is not going to stop. On the contrary, she wants to do more, to discover, to study. Luda loves Kakheti and the work she does, and she now has less to worry about as there are qualified people by her side she can always seek help and advice from.
No-tillage method prepares land for planting crops without excessively disturbing the soil. It prevents quick evaporation, and combats erosion. This method keeps organic materials in the soil that helps to recycle nutrition elements, protecting beneficial flora and fauna in the soil, altogether creating additional pores in the ground and keeps the levels humidity. No-till method is not only cost-efficient, but also protects the soil from erosion and reduces the impact from droughts. Moreover, the farms don’t need to burn the stubble anymore.