What the Georgians wait from Russian market?04.04.2013 | 13:19
Georgian agricultural products soon return to Russia after a 7-year hiatus. The agreement was reached in Moscow during the visit of a delegation from Georgia. Citrus, fruit, vegetables and tea - these are the products that will be supplied to Russia in the coming months. The Georgian side takes the responsibility for the quality of the products. What do the farmers, many of whom had to completely abandon the cultivation of these products after introduction of the embargo, think about the opening of the Russian market?
"Prior to 2006, the situation was completely different. We sold our apples and other fruits to Russia. And then suddenly everything stopped," says a resident of Gori district Vano Margvelashvili. "Many even had to cut down their orchards to use wood for heating. It became unprofitable to keep orchards," said Margvelashvili.
For him, as for many other people in the region of Shida Kartli (eastern Georgia), the decision to open the Russian market for Georgian agricultural products marks the beginning of a new stage in life. "Of course, we sell fruit today, mostly in Georgia, but how can it compete with the huge Russian market? It was a major source of income for me and for many others."
Vano also said that after the closure of the Russian market in 2006, one price was set for all the apples. "After all, these fruits, as well as other products, are different in quality. And they have set single price for all apple varieties. In short, it became unprofitable to engage in this business. Before 2008, we managed to sell something in Russia, but then this market closed at all."
Western Georgia has suffered no less. The sale of citrus along with mineral water "Borjomi", according to economic experts in the early 90s, could maintain the whole of Georgia. Now there are too much of them. It's not so easy to export agricultural products to Turkey - they have enough of them. Moreover, while Georgia has arranged all the conditions for the import of products from Turkey and other countries, Georgian foods do not enjoy such preferences.
Prior to 2006, Georgia sold to Russia citrus, fruit, greens, but the process often acquired uncontrolled nature. Now the Russian side proposes Georgia the only condition - the quality of the product must correspond to the Russian law.
The agreement on the admission of Georgian agricultural products was reached in Moscow at the meeting of the head of the Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal service for veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance) Sergei Dankvert and the head of the National Food Agency Zurab Chekurishvili. Georgian delegation briefed the Russian side on those undertakings that have been carried out in Georgia to monitor the quality of products. The next step is discussion of the technical details. "Georgian products soon return to the Russian market, experts should only clarify some details," Zurab Chekurishvili said after the two-hour meeting in the Rosselkhoznadzor.
- Georgia is going to supply fruits and vegetables, citrus, tea, honey and fish to Russia," the head of the public relations department of the National Food Agency Giga Kurdovanidze said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes. "No commission will come to Georgia from Russia to test the quality of products. Any company wishing to export products to Russia can contact us to get a relevant document and start trading.
- And what are these products? After all, in contrast to the "Borjomi" and Georgian wine, agricultural products from Georgia are less familiar in Russia?
- I do not agree with that. In Russia, Georgian citrus, tea, fruits and vegetables are well-known. By the way, the Georgian new potatoes were rather expensive and were even considered a delicacy. We cannot assert that in the first months Georgia can supply to Russia a huge volume of products. More likely, the bulk of exports will be supplied in the fall this year, but we need to prepare in advance. As for the quality, I can say that the situation is radically different from the one that was in 2006. Georgia itself is responsible for the quality," said Kurdovanidze.
Experts have not yet calculated how much the closure of the Russian market cost for Georgia. Rather, we are talking about billions of dollars in damages. Thus, in the early 90s, during the presidency of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the government decided to "declare an economic blockade of Russia": the railway was blocked in western Georgia. At that time, according to the most modest estimates, the budget of Georgia lost about a billion dollars. In this case, the budget of Russia suffered minor damage.