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Who will help Georgian peasants?2010-07-13 16:59
It is quite possible that a US flag will soon rise above Georgia's tea gardens and vineries: representatives of 13 US companies have arrived in the country to gauge the potential of Georgian agriculture. The industry that has been brought to ruin over last 20 years needs investments like cabbage needs water. But the experts are not too hopeful over generosity of Americans: entering the Georgian market they will flood it with cheap goods from different countries.
Georgia's food security is in jeopardy. The republic that once produced more foodstuffs than its citizens could eat, is now purchasing fruit and vegetables, as well as meat and fish abroad. Paata Koguashvili, an economist, pointed to this alarming fact as early as two years ago.
Referring exclusively to the official information by the Statistics Department he concluded that Georgia's grain self-sufficiency is 20%, vegetal fats - 18%, meat and meat products - 47%, vegetables - 60%, fruit - 75% and tea - only 5%. Cheap imported goods oust more expensive domestic products.
It's been two years since Koguashvili's warning. Over this time several state programs in villages were launched with the help of foreign partners. Irrigation was restored, infrastructure in remote areas was developing and foreign machinery was bought. But all these efforts slipped through a crack as if the money was invested in a desert, not the kindly land of Alpine meadows and Black Sea warmth.
A month ago European experts acknowledged Georgia's agriculture industry as most inefficient in Transcaucasia. The government was recommended to infuse other millions of dollars.
The Georgian government seeks investments everywhere - from Latin America to China. But it is more difficult to find sponsors for Georgian economy this year. Over the first quarter of 2010 there were only USD 76 mln in investments, USD 54 mln less than over the similar period of last year when streets were filled with cell cages and the world was facing the global economic crisis.
Still, agriculture is a peculiar industry needing long-term investments that do not always justify the costs.
To attract such investments Georgia turned to Americans bound to help their Caucasian partners under the Partnership Charter.
Today a delegation of 13 US entrepreneurs arrived in Tbilisi to analyze whether the local investment climate is good to them.
Maybe in the follow-up of this visit they will sign agreements on establishment of joint ventures.