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Ajaria losing tangerine paradise2010-11-29 12:41
This year's citrus yield in Georgia will be half the amount of 2009 causing no export problems. There is only one company - Citro - authorized to purchase local tangerines at reaping season. The second citrus processor - Narinji - is on halt for financial problems. David Asanidze, the company's CEO, has discussed that with GeorgiaTimes in more detail.
Georgia's agriculture greets the start of the New Year's season with ripening tangerines, oranges and persimmons. This year's yield of citruses is twice less than in 2009 because of bad weather conditions. Last year's yield was nearly 120 thousand tons, in 2010 the harvest will be 65 thousand tons at best according to the forecasts.
Ajaria grows the lion's share of New Year's fruit. That is why poor harvest is the republic's primary concern. Instead of 96 thousand tons that were gathered and sold, including exports to 10 world countries, this year's prospect is only 50 thousand tons with 2 thousand tons being "noble" oranges.
70% of the harvest has already been reaped though domestic processing will be small.
The problem is that local purchasing is carried out by Citro company that acquired a new production line in early 2010. The modernization project, roughly estimated at USD 100 thousand was financed by "Millennium Challenge" foundation, GHN agency reports. The plant produces lemon, tangerine, orange and grape juices. Processing "non-standard" citruses is the company's strongest point. This year Citro will buy only 1,000 tons of citruses below market price - at 15-20 tetris.
Narinji, another serious company, does not purchase citruses at all. Several more juice factories closed down in Gori district this year because of lack of fruit. For instance, Samegobro company received 300 kg of local apples. Cula, a children's food factory was forced to reorient and start producing other types of concentrate - not apples. This however keeps the plant running at 60% of the previous load.
Narinji, however, does not complain of the lack of citruses. It's financial problems. Ajarian ministry of agriculture seems to be little concerned. As the officials claim, 90% of citruses are exported abroad anyway.
Last year's traditional markets included the Czech Republic, Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Moldova. The sales were greatly assisted by introduction of EU standards of gathering and packaging. Besides, last year an "extraordinary HQ" was operating in Batumi to prevent loss of the harvest. As a result Ajaria managed to export 91,478 tons of citruses. This year'sz yield of tangerines and oranges will be more modest.