New Cash Market for Fruit and Vegetable Growers
The Georgian horticulture sector has significant untapped potential for growth that has been validated by a rapidly increasing export rate in the last few years. Official statistics for stone fruit exports in 2014 show an increase of 108% ($3MM) compared to 2013. Georgia has made increasing agricultural exports a strategic priority and identified the overall availability of effective postharvest activities as a key indicator of success. Given this reality, USAID’s REAP program awarded matching grants to 13 emerging agribusinesses to install modern refrigerated cold storage systems for fruits and vegetables.
Established in 2012, Georgian Fruit Company’s (GFC) initial business activities involved renting warehouses in different regions of Georgia to consolidate produce from local farmers for export. Utilizing a REAP grant and favorable loan terms from the Agricultural Projects Management Agency (APMA), GFC installed a new 400 m3 refrigerated cold storage unit with modern packing and boxing mechanisms in the Gurjaani district of eastern Georgia.
Additionally, a new calibration machine that sorts fruits by color and size provided further incentive for local farmers to work with GFC and the company’s modern agricultural technologies to increase their productivity and sales.
In the first half of 2015, tangerine, apple, and cucumber exports to Ukraine and Russia have increased by 50%, totaling 280 tons. Currently, GFC is working with more than 100 peach and nectarine farmers in Kakheti to meet an export demand of more than 1,500 tons from their various international partners.