Georgia is a Eurasian country of the Caucasus region located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Its entire western border lies along the Black Sea, while its northern region has a long common border with Russia. Georgia’s population is about 4.5 million (2012), and the name of its capital is Tbilisi. The country was a part of the Soviet Union until it gained independence in 1991, but thereafter, while struggling to adopt free market economy through structural reforms, it faced serious economic crisis during most of the 1990s. However, its international economic standing greatly improved in 2007, with fast-growing tourism making a significant contribution to its economy. The country still has persistent poverty prevailing particularly in its rural areas. Georgia is administratively divided into nine main regions and two autonomous republics. The regions are sub-divided into 69 districts.
Georgia is an intensely mountainous country, covered by many inter-connected Caucasus mountain ranges. It enjoys a variety of climates including warm, humid, sub-tropical along the Black Sea coast, cold and wet alpine climate in the high mountains, and arid environment in steppes. The development of the agricultural sector was not a high priority for the past Georgian governments. According to the European Union, numerous problems and challenges faced by Georgia such as capital disinvestment, the Russian embargo, absence of a functioning agricultural research-education-extension system, lack of a well-functioning land market, poor condition of irrigation systems and other infrastructures, and widespread impact of livestock diseases have resulted in the reduction of agricultural production by 20 per cent since 2005. Even though agriculture’s decline in economic terms has been steady it still remains an important safety net for rural population in terms of food security. The present government has taken several bold steps to revive the agricultural sector such as inviting foreign investors and experienced farmers from countries like India to buy and develop arable land, something most Georgian farmers have not been able to do for various reasons.
Major crops grown are corn and winter wheat. Fruits include apples, wine grapes, peaches, nectarines, pears, oranges, tangerines, mandarins, and clementine. Vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes and garlic. Among the livestock, cattle, pigs and sheep are common. Main agricultural exports are wine and processed tea. Georgia has hundreds of grape varieties and has been producing high-quality wines for centuries.
Key Statistics and Indicators
Agricultural land (sq. km)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares)
Arable land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares per person)
Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)
Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)
Food exports (% of merchandise exports)
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Rural population (% of total population)
Agricultural population (% of total population)
Total economically active population
Total economically active population in agriculture
Total economically active population in agriculture (in %
of total economically active population)
Female economically active population in agriculture (% of
total economically active population in agriculture)
Sources: The World Bank
History of extension and the enabling environment
When Georgia was a part of the Soviet Union, almost the entire agricultural land was owned by the state and large collective farms were the norm. There were private, small family farms as well, but there is no information available on any extension and advisory support received by the farm families. The pattern of landholding changed drastically after Georgia’s independence in 1991. The collective, large state farms were de-collectivized and rather small parcels of land were distributed among rural households. Many new land owners had no clue of how to cultivate their farms properly. Once guaranteed Soviet Bloc market for Georgia’s agricultural exports was lost, the Georgian farmers passed through extreme crisis involving starvation threats, rural poverty and environmental pollution. Civil conflicts only worsened the situation.
The Agricultural Development Project (ADP), which was the first project in Georgia financed by the World Bank and co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was started in 1997 when the country was still suffering from post-Soviet era problems. The project was completed in 2005, i.e. 38 months after the original closing date. Four components of the project focused on strengthening credit to enterprises, credit unions, land registration, and agricultural services. Under the last component, pilot research and extension modalities for small private farmers using mainly private service providers, and of farm management training programs were to be designed and tested. Studies were conducted in the areas of irrigation development and agricultural research and extension the results of which were used later in designing two World Bank-financed projects, namely Irrigation and Drainage Community Development Project (IDCDP) and the Agricultural Research, Extension and Training Project (ARET). An evaluation study rated the project outcome as “moderately unsatisfactory”.
The World Bank-financed Agricultural Research, Extension and Training Project (ARET), supported by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) was launched in 2000. The project aimed at strengthening adaptive research and technology dissemination through Competitive Grant Scheme, and at supporting the reform of the agricultural knowledge system (AKS). Under the AKS component, a national strategy for reforming the agricultural research, education and extension system was to be prepared.
In 2008, CARE International, Ministry of Agriculture and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) organized a workshop in Tbilisi titled “Approaches to Agricultural Extension in Georgia: Past, Present and Future”. The event was attended by relevant government officials, major international NGOs and donor agencies involved in the development of agriculture in Georgia.
In 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture published the Agricultural Development Strategy 2012-2022. The priorities for 2012 in the strategy included, among others, the establishment of extension/research centers in six regions of the country, development of demonstration plots equipped with modern technologies, renewing mechanization, and establishing 12 service centers in the regions. The six extension centers to be established were to be equipped with the following facilities in order to perform various functions:
- Planning and management of farm/agri-business.
- Modern technologies of production.
- Modern methods of plant protection.
- Meteorological stations throughout the districts.
- Experimenting new species and agro-chemicals.
- Laboratories for soil and leaf analysis.
- Well-equipped training rooms.
- Necessary farm machinery.
- Pieces of land for demonstration purposes.
The mechanization & extension centers were to be established at the following locations:
- Kakheti (Gurjaani; Chalaubani).
- Kvemo Kartli (Marneuli).
- Shida Kartli (Kareli).
- Samtskhe-Javakheti (Akhaltsikhe).
- Imereti (Zestaponi).
- Samegrelo (Abasha).
The mechanization service centers were to be established at the following locations:
- Kakheti (Dedoplistskaro).
- Kvemo Kartli (Bolnisi).
- Shida Kartli (Kaspi, Rene).
- Racha-Lechkhumi, Kvemo Svaneti (Ambrolauri).
- Guria (Ozurgeti).
- Imereti (Samtredia).
The following demonstration/training sites were to be established for introducing modern agricultural and horticultural technologies:
- Six fruit demonstration gardens.
- Eight vegetable demonstration plots.
- Field days (training of 40,000 farmers).
In 2012, the Georgian Law on Agricultural Cooperative was passed by the Parliament. The same year, the Georgian Code on Food/Feed Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection was also passed.
According to a PowerPoint presentation “Agriculture: The National Priority”, prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in November 2013, as many as 59 Extension and Information Service Centers were established in the spring of 2013. In addition, 270 new employees were recruited to provide extension and advisory services to the farmers. With the assumption that spreading the knowledge would make it possible to enhance the competitiveness of farmer and rural entrepreneurs and organizations, the main objectives of establishing the Extension and Information Service Centers were stated as follows:
- Train and educate farmers to increase agricultural productivity by adopting contemporary agricultural practices,
- Assist farmers in farm management, use of credit, procurement of inputs and marketing of produce, and
- Collect information to create a comprehensive database that can be used to tailor new projects.
A two-year project “Strengthening Extension & Advisory Services (SEAS)”, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was launched in 2013. The objective of the project is to support the Ministry of Agriculture in implementing its public extension and advisory system. The project activities will include staff training, mentoring and continuing education for the Ministry’s employees who are responsible for maintaining direct contact with farmers for extension purposes.
It is evident that quite a number of multilateral and bilateral donors provided financial and/or technical assistance for the development of agricultural sector in Georgia. In summary, these donors included the World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Union (EU), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), USA, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and possibly others.
Major institutions providing extension/advisory services
Ministry of Agriculture
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for providing public agricultural extension and advisory services to the farmers. No information in English is available on the organizational structure or mandate of various departments as the website of the Ministry is in the national language. The Ministry has a number of Extension & Information Service Centers, and Extension & Mechanization Centers, located in various regions whose staff provides extension and advisory services to the farmers.
Agricultural research institutions
There are several institutions in Georgia that are involved in scientific research in various fields including agricultural sciences. There is no information available on any of these institutions engaged in the provision of agricultural extension and advisory services to the farmers. However, these institutions are actively involved in the testing, adapting and generating technologies in various agricultural disciplines that the extension system could diffuse among the producers. Staff of some of these institutions provides backstopping to extension programs in technical subject-matter, serves on agriculture-related committees and plays an advisory role for the government. A few examples of research and extension related institutions are given below.
he Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Several institutes of agricultural research that were under the Ministry of Agriculture before Georgia’s independence, were placed by the government within the Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS), an autonomous organization. In 1997, GAAS comprised 11 institutes and five centers, with the total staff of 876 scientists. Presently, the following institutes/services are either under or linked to GAAS:
- State Inspection on Variety Testing and Protection of Breeding Achievements, Tbilisi.
- Georgian Zootechnical and Veterinary University, Tbilisi.
- Scientific Research Institute of Horticulture, Viticulture and Wine Making, Tbilisi.
- Georgian State Agrarian University, Tbilisi.
- Plants Breeding and Selection Station in Mtskheta, Natakhtary Village.
- Research Institute of Soil Science, Agro-chemistry and Land Reclamation, Fonichala Village.
- Research Institute of Crop Husbandry, Tbilisi.
- Phytosanitary Inspection, Tbilisi.
Major objectives of the GAAS program in 2007 were: elaboration of state scientific, technical programs/projects; implementation of innovative technological policy for scientific technical reform development; stimulating innovative activities; and popularization of scientists’ activities.
Universities in Georgia do not provide direct agricultural extension and advisory services to the farmers. They, however, offer degree programs in various agricultural disciplines, and also play an important role in research/technology generation, advising the government, serving on relevant bodies, linking with extension and advisory services staff, and training and capacity building. Examples of some of the relevant universities are as follows:
- Georgian State University of Subtropical Agriculture (GSSAU)
Located in Kutaisi; established in 1952; comprises two departments: Faculty of Subtropical Agriculture, Economics and Tourism, and Mechanization of Subtropical Cultures and Technology.
- Agricultural University of Georgia
Located in Tbilisi; also called as Georgia State Agricultural University.
- University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Located in Tbilisi; has a Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development; combines research and extension missions by providing feasibility and marketing services, collection and analysis of agricultural and demographic data related to policy issues in Georgian agriculture to facilitate decision making by public and private decision-makers.
- Georgian Technical University
Located in Tbilisi; houses the Georgian Institute of Water Management that was established in 1929.
The Georgian Agriculture Corporation (GAC) is a state-owned, commercial organization that focuses on the development of the agricultural sector. GAC’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of the agricultural sector in the country by managing investment projects. The Agro100.ge initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture aims at establishing 100 New Enterprises in Rural Areas. The project’s objectives include facilitate establishment of agricultural enterprises, increase employment in rural areas, and improve exports. A USAID-funded project “Agricultural Mechanization Project” supports the establishment of 25-30 Machinery Service Centers to provide Georgian farmers with agriculture machinery on favorable terms. The centers, when fully established, will provide fee-based custom machinery services to 14,000 small farmers.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, there are more than 130 companies that offer necessary services to the farmers. However, it is not evident if any of them are involved in agricultural extension and advisory activities. The largest service provider company is Ltd “Mechanizatori”, owned by the Agricultural Projects Management Agency (APMA), which is a non-profit, non-commercial organization created by the Georgian Government. The Mechanizatori deals in all kinds of tractors, combines and other farm machinery and equipment.
The government has been offering incentives to attract potential foreign investors to invest in the Georgian agricultural sector. Name of some of the international companies (along with nationality, year of entry in Georgia, and agribusiness) that, according to PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers Ceska republika, s.r.o.), have already established their production offices in Georgia, are as follows:
- Perdue: from USA; entry 2011; poultry.
- Jabluneviy Dar: from Ukraine; entry 2007; fruit and juices.
- Wimm Bill Dann Georgia (Soplis Nobati): from Russia; entry 2009; dairy.
- Geolive: from Turkey; entry 2009; olive oil.
- Schuchmann Wines: from Germany; entry 2008; wine.
- Hipp: from Germany; entry 2007; fruit and juices.
- Ferrero: from Italy; entry 2007; nuts farming and processing.
- Chateau Mukhrani: from Denmark; 2003; wine.
- Unifarm: from Sweden; entry 1997; milk and dairy.
- LLC GWS: from Denmark; 1994; wine.
There is no information readily available on any national NGO’s direct involvement in the provision of agricultural extension and advisory services to the farmers. Among international NGOs working in Georgia, the most visible in terms of extension service, was CARE International in the Caucasus through its organization of a workshop in Tbilisi in 2008 on agricultural extension’s past, present and future approaches. Participants of the event included Georgian government officials, CNFA Georgia, GRM International, ACH, GIZ, Mercy Corps and invited experts from Ukraine and Russia. It is assumed that at least some of the national and international NGOs do perform extension and advisory type of activities while operating their projects on agricultural and rural development, environment, youth and community development. An example of a national NGO involved in this kind of work is Georgian Vocational Education Foundation http://gvef.ge/, which has been implementing the Learning Center Universe Project in collaboration with the Georgian Beekeeper Farmers Union.
Names, contact persons, region, mailing addresses, telephones, fax numbers, e-mail addresses and subjects of interests of about 400 Georgian NGOs may be found (in English) at the following link: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/georgia/sub/dbsa.htm. Another source, which provides a partial list of environmental NGOs and information about them is http://enrin.grida.no/htmls/georgia/soegeor/englisg/institut/ngo/list.htm.
Examples of a few Georgian NGOs that have explicitly indicated agriculture as field of interest, selected from the above mentioned sources, are given below:
- Ecologiuri Biomonitoringis Assotsiatsia (Association of Ecological Bio-monitoring): Established in 1995; based in Tbilisi; conducted training sessions on health dangers of utilizing chemical pesticides and herbicides in rural areas of western Georgia.
- Farmers Coordination Center International, FCCI; Education and Training: Based in Tbilisi
- Union “ARISHI”: Located in Rustavi.
- Georgian Academy of Ecological Sciences: Located in Tbilisi.
- Zugdidi Branch of the Charity Humanitarian Center “ABKHAZIA”: Located in Zugdidi.
A few examples of foreign NGOs operating in Georgia are: CARE International, Heifer International, OXFAM GB, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, GRM International, CHF International, International Relief and Development (IRD), Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN).
Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies
While cooperatives (kolkhosis and sovkhosis ) have a long history in Georgia, the formation of farmers’ associations is relatively a new phenomenon. A study report jointly sponsored by the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2012 points out current legislation and policy related to farmer organizations in Georgia as deficient across three major aspects: (1) Lack of appropriate strategy and policy to support farmer organizations which positively impact on their economic performances of the farmer organizations and related practices; (2) Significant shortcomings in the Law which affects the ability of mitigating the risks inherent to joint work; (3) Absence of globally recognized principles of cooperatives which affects understanding and motivation of the members in forming cooperative. A “Roundtable on Agricultural Cooperatives in the CIS Countries and Georgia: Legislation, Viability, Policies and Vision” was held in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine from 27 to 28 November 2013.
Examples of major farmers’ associations/cooperatives in Georgia are as follows. They certainly provide valuable support to farmers, but there is little information available on their involvement in agricultural extension and advisory activities.
- Biological Farming Association (ELKANA)
- Founded in 1994; registered as an NGO; a member of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM); interests include organic farming and environmental protection in Georgia; participates in relevant international forums; organizes seminars, exhibitions and other events to promote its mission.
- Georgian Farmers Association
- Established in 2012; activities include advocacy, education, market research and matchmaking; membership reported in 2012 was 700 including 108 direct members and affiliate members.
- Association for Farmers Rights Defense (AFRD)
- Located in Tbilisi; areas of interest include education and training; water resources management; erosion and sediment control; agriculture; ecosystem management; biomass energy.
- Agricultural and Industrial Cooperatives Society of Georgia “Union of Cooperatives – IBERIA”.
- Georgia Consumer Cooperative Alliance (TSEKA VSHIRI).
- Georgian Farmers Union
- Established in 1992; membership reportedly comprises about 25,000 small farmers and about 500 agro firms, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, farmers’ associations, and large farmers; has its organizations in almost every region of Georgia; supports farmers in the development of various agricultural aspects, local and overseas sale of products, creation of cooperatives, credit unions and agro service enterprises; has established Farmers’ University that provides free education to farms in different agricultural areas; has also established a Consulting Center where farmers can approach for consultation and advice on topics such as viticulture, horticulture, mushroom cultivation, apiculture, medicinal plants, fishery breeding, fruit growing, vegetable production, plant protection, livestock breeding, etc.
- Georgian Beekeeper Farmers Union
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Georgia. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.
Training options for extension professionals
Pre-service education in agricultural sciences may be pursued at any of the following universities in Georgia:
- Georgian State University of Subtropical Agriculture (GSSAU).
- Agricultural University of Georgia.
- University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
- Georgian Technical University.
Brief information about these academic institutions of higher learning has been presented in an earlier section. For in-service training, extension professionals may contact the following institutions to explore possibilities of short training. Specific need-based training courses may also be arranged with relevant institutions.
- Agricultural universities/colleges, mentioned above.
- Various agricultural research institutes linked with the Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, mentioned in an earlier section, depending on the technical subject-matter in which training is desired.
- South Caucasus Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), being operated in Georgia, involving several universities including the Ministry of Agriculture.
- UNDP (United Nations Development Program) training program in vocational education and agricultural extension services being implemented in Georgia in collaboration with SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation).
- USAID project on Strengthening Extension and Advisory Services (SEAS) being implemented at present.
- Relevant national and international NGOs presently engaged in extension related activities in rural areas.
- International companies engaged in commercial operations in specific agricultural industries.
- Short training courses offered by various institutions in European countries such as in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and in USA, if English-medium training is to be received and funds are available.
Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension
According to the World Bank, in 2012, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Georgia was 109.15. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 45.50. Although the Georgian Government has been passing a number of decrees and resolutions since 1999 to develop a national strategy on ICT, and some positive developments have been observed yet the progress in general has been slow. A study commissioned by FAO in 2003 identified several constraints in incorporating ICT in Georgia’s agricultural sector, such as lack of national networking, lack of intra-organizational cooperation to establish an ICT infrastructure, poor language and computer skills of staff, scarcity of computers, outdated telecommunication technology, lack of political will, and poor electronic information content.
The following are some of the positive ICT developments in the agricultural sector of Georgia during recent years:
- Georgian Association for Informatics in Agriculture, Food and the Environment has been established.
- Several agricultural information on-line database systems, such as follows, have been established:
- Agro-market by the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) , which is extension-oriented.
- Agroinfo by USAID/ACDI-VOCA, which is market-oriented.
- An Information Management System for plant and genetic resources in English and Russian, introduced under the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dryland Areas (ICARDA) project “Development of International Database for Genetic Resources”.
- Hortivar, a database developed by FAO to manage data of horticulture cultivar performance in different environment/locations, introduced at the Institute of Horticulture, Viticulture & Oenology (IHVO).
- Although ICT infrastructure in national agricultural organizations remains poor yet a few organizations such as TECHINFORMI, ELKANA (farmers-based organization, mentioned earlier), and the Ministry of Agriculture now have a relatively better infrastructure.
- The use of the Internet has been increasing at a fast rate (there were 12 Internet providers already in 2003)
- The government’s Agricultural Development Strategy 2012-2022 aims at developing an Agro Geographical Information System (e-agriculture)
Resources and references
Armenian Development Agency. 2012. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable: A research [study] for Armenian, Russian, Georgian, Kuwaiti and European markets of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Bedoshvili, D. 2008. National Report on the State of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Georgia. Aleppo, Syria: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dryland Areas (ICARDA).
FAO .2004. Georgia: ICT infrastructure and use in agriculture; published in on-line SD Dimensions. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Georgia, supported by the European Union .2012. Georgia: Agriculture Sector Bulletin
Gogaladze, V. 2012. Irrigation in Agriculture. PowerPoint presentation. Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia.
Guledani, M. 2012. Legal Constraints Faced by Farmer Organizations in Georgia and Recommendations. Report prepared under the EC/FAO Program on Information Systems to Improve Food Security Decision-Making in the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) East Area.
IFAD (no date; probably 2009). Georgia: Agricultural Support Project; Final Project Design Report; Main Report. Rome: International Fund for Agricultural Development.
IFAD (no date; probably 2006). Republic of Georgia: Agricultural Development Project; Completed Evaluation.
MEAS [Newsletter] (no date; probably 2013). Strengthening Extension and Advisory Services in Georgia (SEAS); a USAID funded project implemented by the Modernizing Extension & Advisory Services Program (MEAS), University of Illinois.
Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia. 2012. Agricultural Development Strategy 2012-2022. PowerPoint presentation.
Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia. 2013. Agriculture: The National Priority. PowerPoint presentation.
Morgunov, A. and L. Zuidema. 1999. The Legacy of the Soviet Agricultural Research System for the Republics of Central Asia and Caucasus. The Hague: International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR).
Mosashvili, G. (no date). ICT Technologies in the Agrarian Sector of Georgia. Tbilisi: Department of Information, Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Schott (formerly Pavliasshvili), J. (no date; probably 2010). Policy issues on sustainable agriculture and rural development in Georgia. Gottingen, Germany: Gottingen University.
PWC (August 2011). Agriculture Sector: Invest in Georgia…ripe for investment. PricewaterhouseCoopers Ceska republika, s.r.o.
Temel, T., A. Maru, and R. Krell (no date; probably 2004). Information and Communications Technology in Reforming National Agricultural Systems in Central Asian Countries: The Case of Georgia. Available at: http://www.ecorec.org/publications/B003.pdf.
Winrock International. 2007. Biogas: Retrospect and Prospects Georgia, Rural Energy Program. Report prepared for USAID.
World Bank. 2010. Report No. 55258; Agricultural Sector Reform in Europe and Central Asia; An IEG Review of the Performance of Seven Projects including Armenia-Agricultural Reform Support Project (CR.3035), Georgia-Agricultural Development Project (CR. 2941) and additional projects in Azerbaijan, Romania and Tajikistan. Washington, DC: Sector Evaluations (IEGSE); Independent Evaluation Group (World Bank).
- RAS Status Georgia 2015.pdf 1.63 MB2016-01-28
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- Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (February 2014)
- Edited by Burton E. Swanson