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News from the Georgian fields2009-03-19 16:58
Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili started his working week with an inspection of farmland around Tbilisi. A month ago he called the development of agriculture the main instrument for tackling unemployment during the crisis. The government has launched several programmes in this sector of the economy, however their implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
On 16th March, President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Minister for Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli went to the village of Sartichala near Tbilisi. The spring work on the fields got the head of state to thinking that there remain too many empty hectares in Georgia. "If during a crisis, you work more land than before, the city population will be provided with cheap products, and you won't have any problem with unemployment," the president exhorted the peasants. He promised Sartichala residents help in the form of fuel, seeds and fertilizers.
The remaining peasant holdings will have to make do with the fertilizers given out annually by the country's government. This year about a million holdings will receive this "humanitarian aid". Each family will be allocated 50 kilograms of ammonium nitrate. The Ministry for Agriculture has already signed contracts for their purchase from the "Rustavi Nitrogen" plant, as Radio Kommersant reported. It notes that fertilizers have already been distributed in Kvemo Kartli, and soon they will reach other regions.
Specialists write that out of all the many different types of nitrates, the Ministry for Agriculture has chosen the one in which there is the least amount of useful potassium and the largest amount of ineffective gypsum. But the peasants are in no position to be outraged - they can't look a gift horse in the mouth. Ultimately, the fertilizers can be converted into cash, which the poverty-stricken villagers of Kakheti actually do, as the "Information Centre of Kakheti" announced in February. Moreover, Kakhetian journalists affirm that in these crisis conditions, peasants are being forced to sell their land on a mass scale for a pittance. Admittedly, the authorities deny all these reports.