Dutch Greenhouse sector successfully explored Georgian horticulture

Significant opportunities for greenhouse development in Georgia

In the last week of September the Netherlands Council for Trade Promotion (NCH) in cooperation with Greenport Holland International (GHI) and the Dutch Embassy in Tbilisi organized a successful trade mission for the Dutch Horticulture sector to Georgia and Armenia. Goal of the trade mission was to explore and gain insight in the horticulture sector and discover new business opportunities in the sectors of agriculture and food. The delegation was represented by Greenport Holland International (GHI), the Government Service for Land and Water Management (DLG), Wageningen University, and suppliers of greenhouse technology, climate & quality control, lighting and greenhouse automation.


Opportunities in Georgia

In general, the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables in Georgia is increasing in both the domestic and the international market. Significant opportunities exist in the domestic market by the replacement of imported fruits and vegetables with domestically grown products. In addition, export volume of existing and new fresh and processed horticultural products has significant growth potential. Currently Georgia is importing about 80% of its vegetables and fruits, mostly during winter time. Innovative technology enabling change in timing and growth, like greenhouses, cold storage, irrigation, refrigeration and general farm machinery, will help the Georgian agriculture industry to compete with the imports from for example Turkey and it will also enable Georgia to export to Russia, Ukraine and Central Europe. These last countries have serious interest in locally produced products from Georgia as traditionally Georgia became famous during the Soviet era for its good wine and organic production of fruits, nuts and vegetables.


Company visit to Decorative Plant Nursery funded by PSI (Private Sector Investment Program) with H.E. Hans Horbach, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia and Armenia.


Opportunities in Armenia

Armenia is lacking modern methods and technologies for the planting, growing and processing of crops. An relative easy to overcome obstacle. With the right training and equipment, sizeable productivity increases can be expected in a matter of years or even months. Especially up scaling and availability of equipment to produce on a more consistent level throughout the year would raise productivity tremendously. Development of post-processing operations, ranging from sorting, packaging, cool storage facilities up to quality monitoring and assessment would make the crops more sustainable and lasting longer, which makes them more interesting and competitive on foreign markets such as Russia. The Armenian horticulture sector has also shifted back to producing high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables, as opposed to staple stable crops like grain and potatoes. These high-value products offer a much more appealing investment return than staple crops could. Even though government spending is limited, the Armenian diaspora is always looking to invest in the country. Traditionally their main focus has been on real-estate, but solid project proposals could definitely attract interest.


Visit to a tomato growing greenhouse “Gori” in Tbilisi region.

High level welcome

The mission started effectively with a warm welcome by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. David Shervashidze and stressed the range of opportunities for Dutch business as Agriculture and food security are the main priorities of the Georgian government. As a consequence the Georgian ministry of Agriculture implemented a new strategy (2012-2022) which aims to elevate food security. Moreover the strategy should increase the GDP in agriculture and agribusiness as currently the GDP for this sector only accounts for 9% while more than 50% of Georgians are active in the Agriculture industry mainly with small scale family farms often producing purely at subsistence level. Georgia urgently needs to increase its productivity which can easily be reached by investing in greenhouses, irrigation, cold storage and raising the level of mechanization.

During the roundtable session at the Ministry of Agriculture, the delegation also met with representatives from USAID, GeoWel Research (A comparative report on Georgia Armenia and Azerbaijan can be found here). A representative of the Delegation of the EU in Georgia explained about the European Neighbourhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). This program aims to boost food production and reduce rural poverty in Georgia. In total, a budget of 40 million USD will be allocated through the government’s budget as well as NGO’s. This is especially important in light of on-going negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and EU.

Georgian encounters

In order to have an effective start, the mission was kicked off with an intensive matchmaking session between Dutch, Georgian and Armenian companies. To explore the fertile soil of Georgia, a working visit was organized to a decorative plant nursery in Tbilisi (funded by the Dutch Private Sector Investment program) and a vegetable Greenhouse in Gori. Both companies were planning to extend their greenhouses and aiming to improve their productivity with innovative technology and invest in appropriate training and education. On the last evening of the mission, the Dutch Embassy in Tblisi hosted a well visited network reception at the residence of H.E. Hans Horbach, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia and Armenia.


Dutch knowledge as export product

In order to increase the knowledge and management level in the agribusiness, Wageningen University and Greenport Holland International had intensive and cooperative talks with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural University of Georgia in order to establish a Training Centre on Horticulture in Georgia. This initiative fits well the current trend in the country where extension services are being set up all over Georgia. An idea was also positively received by a representative from EBRD in Georgia. Possibilities will be further explored regarding a short-term training in 2014 at the Agricultural University of Georgia within international cooperation supported by the Dutch program NUFFIC.

Follow-up

During the missions, representatives from the Armenian Centre for Agribusiness and Rural Development (CARD) were present. The Dutch participants became interested in organizing a next exploring mission to Armenia in 2014. Became interested in the greenhouse market in Georgia or Armenia? Would you like to join the next horticulture mission to Armenia? Do not hesitate to contact the Netherlands Council of Trade Promotion (NCH) or Greenport Holland International (GHI).

For future trade missions to Georgia & Armenia please contact:
Netherlands Council of Trade Promotion (NCH)
Ms. Marieke van der Wilk
Area manager Central and Eastern Europe
E-mail: mvanderwilk@nchnl.nl
Phone: 0031 70 3441554

Regarding training, research activities in the greenhouse sector please contact:
Greenport Holland International (GHI)
Mrs. Irina Bezlepkina
Project Manager
E-mail: i.bezlepkina@greenporthollandinternational.nl
Phone: 00 31 79-347 09 52

Source: NCH

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