Giorgi Abuladze is an eco-migrant, who moved from an avalanche zone in the mountainous Adjara to Tsalka in Eastern Georgia in 2001. His family initially grew different vegetables: potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, and tomatoes. In 2017, Giorgi and his family shifted to broccoli growing. Georgia mostly imports broccoli from abroad and it is more expensive than other vegetables at the local market. Yet broccoli is in high demand throughout the year. Therefore, with support from the EU and FAO, Giorgi decided to plant broccoli on a larger plot and to expand local vegetable production.
It all started with filling out an application form, and then EU and FAO experts contacted the Abuladze family to find out their needs and future prospects. Based on this information, agronomists designed a demo plot, using Giorgi’s experience. Finally, with shared knowledge and experience, they started broccoli production on 0.35 hectares.
According to Giorgi, at this stage it would have been impossible for him to independently create all the necessary conditions for broccoli production.
“The agronomists helped me to get all resources necessary for growing broccoli. I expanded my land plot and could grow more broccoli. The EU and FAO not only helped financially, but also gave me the opportunity to learn and apply practically the latest methods,” he said.
FAO’s agronomy expert Demna Martsvaladze said that at this stage their team provided daily technical assistance to the Abuladze family.
“Drip irrigation system was installed on 3,500 square meters with EU and FAO funding, we bought seed material, seedling trays, special plastic sheets for mulching, personal protective equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, planting materials. We also handed over to the farmer insect screens for the greenhouse he built in his yard,” he said.
Giorgi has started broccoli production just recently and he hopes for crop improvement. As for the costs, the farmer has received a big advantage, as the EU and FAO covered almost all expenses related to the plot arrangement. Furthermore, Giorgi received additional training in seedling production and care. Experts introduced him to innovative plant care methods throughout the plant development cycle.
With the support of the EU and FAO, Georgian farmers not only get financial support but also receive advice and introduce innovations, which is very important.
"As you know, things are constantly changing globally, so it is necessary to take into account the innovations and adapt all modern agricultural techniques. For instance, various pests and diseases have become resistant to conservative plant protection methods. Today, as never before, it is necessary to support technological development in order to enhance Georgian agriculture, for example, to introduce drip irrigation systems, mulching, modern sowing techniques, etc., "- says Demna Martsvaladze.
According to Giorgi Abuladze, this is just a beginning of a long-term cooperation. Giorgi believes yield would soon increase significantly and he would be able to sell his products to chain markets. He is also planning to cultivate other crops using modern agricultural practices, and he hopes for the experts' support.
Demo plots and field farmer schools are an important coomponent of the EU-funded FAO Support to the Georgian Agricultural Sector. Under this program, 19 demo plots have been arranged in six different regions of Georgia, and 11 different agricultural crops have been planted on a total area of 18 hectares.