In January 2021, the agrarian company Walnuts.ge will complete its cultivation of American Chandler walnut orchards on 150 hectares in the Sagarejoy municipality of Eastern Georgia. Walnuts.ge director David Bukhnikashvili told Business-partner that the company seeks to develop large industrial walnut orchards and produce premium quality products.
“Georgia is a small country. Therefore, we must receive the maximum yield from each hectare of land. Today, our walnut orchards are on an area of 85 hectares. In January 2021, we intend to develop another 65 hectares. Also, Georgia has excellent climatic conditions and we must utilise this,” says David Bukhnikashvili.
Despite the cultural tradition of growing walnuts for millennia in Georgia, the knowledge and experience of producing walnut varieties in our country are critically insufficient, including in regards to the Chandler variety. This variety of walnut is a novelty for the country, but it is well known and in great demand on world markets.
“The expansion project is being implemented with our German and Australian partners and the investment volume is 12 million lari. The company employs about 20 full-time employees plus an additional 30 to 40 workers from adjacent villages during the season,” says David Bukhnikashvili.
The director of Walnuts.ge notes that their initial costs were strategically considered. For example, only 5 million lari was spent on the construction of the irrigation system. The irrigation system’s top-of-the-line three- and four-lane drip irrigation system can be remote-controlled from anywhere in the world.
“This means that our initial investments in development are high, and in our case, they reach 70,000 lari per hectare. Notwithstanding, in 7-8 years, we will get 7 tons of crops per hectare, which is $3.50 (price in the world market) per kilogram of walnut on average. We are not alone in this sector. There are many good farmers in Georgia, and we are all gradually learning and developing,” says the director of Walnuts.ge.
According to him, if a farmer grows walnut crops using correct agricultural measures and technological processes, he will produce a high-quality product at a price lower than in the world market.
“Today, farmers in Georgia pay 75 lari for watering 1 hectare of land. This is much lower than the water tax for farmers in America or European countries,” compares David Bukhnikashvili.
“The main target market for our sales, besides Georgia, is European and Central Asian countries. Negotiations are presently underway with Germany – several producers are interested in high-quality nuts since it is not so easy to find premium products on the world market,” concludes David Bukhnikashvili.
According to him, the low cost is also due to the available labor force that the company is recruiting in nearby villages plus the favorable soil and climatic conditions, which ultimately affect product quality.
“An important success factor is our geographical proximity to markets in Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. This simplifies and lowers the cost of supplying products. The main problem is the lack of relevant experience in our field. Therefore, our Australian and German partners along with Spanish expert Federico Larinaga (one of the most sought-after experts in the world), helped us to achieve success,” says the manufacturer.
According to him, the company will export most of its products from a young Orchard in Sagarejo, with an area of 150 hectares. Their first batch of exports is scheduled for 2021.
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