Georgia prepares for bumper orange harvest

Georgia expected 80,000 tonnes of citrus fruit will be harvested this year., 27 Oct 2015 - 15:12, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia will reap immense benefits of a rich and high quality citrus harvest this season, says an industry expert who predicts this year’s crop will be 40 percent more than last year.

This season more than 100,000 tonnes of citrus fruit is expected to be harvested in Georgia and sent to local markets or exported abroad.

The Government of Georgia saw this potential and offered farmers and industry players a helping hand by implementing several initiatives to support the sector.

Georgia’s Agriculture Ministry announced companies that pay 0.2 GEL for every kilogram of lower quality mandarins, to be processed and not sold as fruit, would receive a subsidy of 0.10 GEL from the state. These companies would also benefit from the Preferential Agro-Credit project.

Unlike previous years three or four international-standard factories will be involved in the citrus harvest process, while the logistic conditions were improved as well.

The environmental conditions for this year’s citrus harvest were much better than last year and as a result, the crop would be higher and of better quality, said the Ministry.

Georgia’s Agriculture Minister Otar Danelia said the Government allocated two million GEL to support export of Georgian mandarins abroad. This money had been used to add extra transport vehicles to the current fleet, meaning export of Georgian citrus would reach its destination in "favourable conditions”, and fund operation of storage facilities.

Georgian citrus was mainly exported to Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Danelia revealed Georgia and Russia had agreed on "technical and methodological issues” meaning Georgian citrus fruit will be exported to Russia "without any obstacles”.

The Minister added negotiations were underway to achieve the same results for exporting Georgian herbs to Russia. Danelia said Georgia had the potential to export 20-30,000 tonnes of herbs.

Georgia’s 2015-2016 orange harvest was due to begin "very soon”, announced the Agriculture Ministry. The typical citrus season ran from November to January and over the coming months more than 100,000 tonnes of citrus fruit was expected to be harvested in Georgia.