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When innovation meets tradition: EU and FAO support

When innovation meets tradition: EU and FAO support

04/01/2022

Akhaltsikhe municipality of Eastern Georgia is famous for its potato production throughout the country. Long-standing tradition and good natural conditions were the reasons behind FAO Georgia agronomists’ decision to introduce new potato varieties and the best modern agricultural solutions to grow them to local farmers and achieve impressive results.

The agronomists of the EU and FAO project, under ENPARD selected farmer Zurab Sadatierashvili’s 0.25-hectare field  to arrange a potato demonstration plot. The plot was split in half, with four new potato varieties planted in both parts. For this project, FAO Georgia teamed up with a local seed vendor company Agroart, which has facilitated the purchase of Fasty, Celtiane, Melene, Kelly from the French Germicopa producer. The farmer received the seeds free of charge, as a result of this partnership.

“We have installed drip irrigation, used fertigation systems to deliver fertilizers to the plot on one half of the plot, while the second half was used as control field with traditional sprinkler irrigation and granulated fertilizers used,” says Dimitri Maisuradze, FAO agronomist in charge of the demonstration plot.

As the potato harvest was collected, FAO agronomist points out that the difference between the two parts of the same plot was substantial.  The plot with modern agricultural methods produced 15% more potatoes, with much better overall quality of the product and tubers reaching desired size and shape quicker than on the control plot.

“Some varieties showed outstanding results, for example we have harvested 510 kilograms of Celtiane variety from the demonstration plot compared to only 300 kilograms from the control field, while they were of the same size and the harvest was collected in the same time period,” Maisuradze stated.

The agronomist says that this experiment not only showed the effectiveness of drip irrigation systems and fertigation, but introduced new potato varieties to the region, each variety with its specific field of use:

“Fasty and Kelly varieties are ideal for fried potatoes, while Celtiane variety is best boiled or baked, Melene variety is used for salads and other purposes,” the agronomist says.

Farmer Zurab Sadatierashvili plans to expand the production taking it from an experiment to production level, leaving the traditional methods behind opting for modern agricultural solutions.

“The plot with the drip irrigation system installed not only gave a better harvest, but it also gave potatoes of great quality, which I will have no trouble selling for the premium price. Next year I will use these methods on one hectare plot, and I hope to achieve even better results,” the farmer stated.

“FAO and EU continue to bring innovation in the agricultural sector in the country. Potatoes, being one of the most important cultures in Georgia can also benefit from the best agricultural solutions modern technologies offer. Georgian farmer can sell better quality products for a better price, with necessary training and knowledge and we are here to facilitate this process,” Javier Sanz Alvarez, EU-FAO Project Coordinator said.

The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 234.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to provide economic opportunities in rural areas and reduce poverty in Georgia. More information on ENPARD is available at: https://eu4georgia.eu/enpard/

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