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Georgian blueberry growers are urged to reconsider approaches to the berry marketing

For the first time in Georgia, USAID’s agricultural program in cooperation with TBC Bank organized Berry Forum – Guria 2021. Minister of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia Levan Davitashvili, US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly K. Degnan, Head of the Parliamentary Agrarian Committee Nino Tsilosani, other official guests and representatives of private sector participated in the forum.

The event took place on the Blueberry LLC farm, the first agro-startup funded by TBC Bank. According to the Agro start-up program, TBC Bank can take as collateral the land plot of the project and provide a grace period of up to 5 years. That is, the loan is repaid with the profit from the financed project, and not from other sources, which makes these conditions the most suitable for agricultural sector.

With this funding, Blueberry LLC added 10 hectares to the 5 hectares planted in 2011. USAID partners with TBC Bank to provide grants and technical assistance to clients of the financial project. So, within the framework of cooperation, the company equipped a storage facility for 80 tons and implemented the Global G.A.P. standard with the support of USAID.

One of the main problems of the industry discussed at the forum was the sale of blueberries. EastFruit spoke with Akaki Zantaraya, founder of Blueberry LLC, that exported over 80 tons of blueberries to Russia this season.

“Firstly, there are few companies producing high-quality berries for the supermarket chains. Quality starts in the field and ends on the supermarket shelf. This is not only large and tasty berries, but also the technical regulations for collection, cooling, sorting, suitable containers – explains Akaki. “Even corners for packing boxes on pallets and film are important when a truck has to travel several thousand kilometers on bad roads. For this we all spend about $ 0.30 per kg, and I see no compromises here.

Secondly, many producers still have high expectations. They did not come true this year, when there was a “traffic jam” at the border leading to blueberry price falling to $ 3 per kg. Blueberry production is growing every year, and there is no longer any hope that a trader will buy blueberries from the field at $ 9-10 per kg. This price is offered, but only in the first week of the season, and then a lot depends on external factors.”

Read also: Georgia Exports cherries by air to Qatar for Lulu Supermarkets

Blueberry LLC exports blueberries directly to the Magnit network (Tander LLC), X5, Vkusvill, Pyaterochka.

“We offered cooperation to other producers in order to form large export batches throughout the season. Such a partnership is possible on a fixed price basis. In this case a producer might not receive a high price at the beginning of the season, but he will not lose at the end either. Nonetheless, the sales and income are ensured and he will be able to plan the production cycle. In the same way, supermarkets work with us under a contract signed in winter. This season we have successfully worked with the Agrodom Nagomari cooperative and the Natura company growing blueberries on 10 hectares and 7 hectares, respectively. Even before the start of the season, we deposited the contract amount with a bank account to guarantee payment for the goods, so fluctuations in the market did not affect the companies. I believe that the sector should consider organized distribution of products in order to ensure income stability for producers and eliminate panic, as we have seen this season.”

 

EastFruit

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