On Neva Grain and Transatlantic Wine08.06.2009 | 17:31
The Presidents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have participated in the World Grain Forum in St. Petersburg. They had an opportunity to communicate with the representatives of 65 world counties. The Georgian authorities ignored the forum. Now they are much more worried about the promotion of Georgian wines in Canada and the US.
At the invitation of the Russian state leader Dmitry Medvedev Edward Kokoity and Sergey Bagapsh participated in the World Grain Forum of St. Petersburg that took place on 6-7 June as part of the International Economic Forum. The representatives of 65 world countries came to the «Northern Capital» of Russia. Some of them primarily export agricultural products, others import them. But both groups are concerned about the situation on the food market. The reduction in the world grain reserves led to violent price fluctuations.
Both consumers and producers suffer from those fluctuations. To handle the price volatility problem at least partially and cancel the dependency of national markets on speculative factors, the St. Petersburg forum members suggested creating a Grain Pool of three states producing one fourth of the world's export grain: Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, reports RIA Novosti.
Other matters were discussed during the forum, too: food security, biofuel production, international reserve grain fund creation and filling. All those matters regarded Abkhazia and South Ossetia just partially. Basically Edward Kokoity and Sergey Bagapsh's participation in the imposing St. Petersburg Forum was important rather from the political point of view than from the economic one. South Ossetia will have to start its agricultural production in general and grain production in particular virtually from scratch. The last time they tried to grow wheat there was in 2007. Ossetians' private land is mostly used to grow vegetables from seed material provided by the International Red Cross humanitarian supplies.
In Abkhazia grain is obtained just from maize as they have really little plough land. Though other agricultural industries are developed quite well in this republic.
In his recent interview to Apsnypress the Abkhazian agricultural minister Jury Akaba claimed that the country's priority economic industry, i.e. tourism, cannot develop without their own agriculture, so agriculture is also considered one of the most important government activity areas. What grows well, apart from mandarines, is kiwi, persimmon, guavasteen (feijoa), pecan nut and hazelnut, chestnut, paprika, grapes of five sorts. Dried fruit production has been started. "Winter" vegetables are grown in the glasshouses of the Ochamchyr and Gulripsh Districts. Processing enterprises produce grape vodka (tchatcha), apiculture products, smoked cheeses, meat, adjika.
Akaba reminded that in autumn of 2008 Abkhazia participated in an agricultural fair in Moscow on a par with thirty countries of the world. At the same time tillage methods remain ancient. «We still plough our fields using bulls and horses. I think that in the mentality of an Abkhazian peasant there is still the tradition to produce vegetables and milk products only for his family's needs», said Akaba. According to him, the state stimulates technical re-equipment of the agricultural fleet, buys tractors with mounted implements, imports from Russia drag plows, seeders, harrows, sprayers, potato harvesters etc. «Our task is to increase cultivated areas for feed crops, especially maize (for silo and grain), soya and other feed cultures, for combined feed production, at the Ochamchyr Combined Feed Factory functioning in the republic», said the minister.
Abkhazian peasants provide the republic population with meat, milk and eggs for more than 50% of the demand.
Abkhazian tea production, as well as Georgian one, is downhill compared to the Soviet times. The problems lie in sales and pricing, as well as in the need to improve the Abkhazian tea quality. At the same time the Boris farm enterprise keeps on funtioning in the Kutol village of the Ochamchyr District, where 520 tons of tea stuff were produced last year.
Akaba acknowledged that now in Abkhazia at least 23 farms have not been functioning temporarily due to the absence of their own turnover funds, so they require financial support. According to the minister, banks do not grant credits for agricultural projects due to low enterprise capitalization. «There are some miniprojects going that are financed from the Privatization Fund, but they cannot stimulate heavy growth of farmhouses. It is not a secret that small lots of fresh greens, seasonal fruit and vegetables, medlar, berries are brought to Moscow markets, but this is too little», said the minister. «We cannot always grant finance, but we have the Agriculture Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences whose nursery gardens and agronomists can always help farmers choose nursery plants», he added.
The Georgian agriculture is not aware of the problems of South Ossetia devastated by its military conflicts. What makes it similar to the Abkhazian agriculture is its technical backwardness, already described by the GeorgiaTimes. But if Abkhazia does not have any problems selling its products, the development of the Georgian agriculture is quite hindered by the political conflict of its authorities with Russia.