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The world food crisis and Georgia

By M. Alkhazashvili
Friday, May 30
Soaring food prices on international markets over the past few years have put 100 million people at risk of hunger according to the World Bank, but government officials here say that Georgia will not be among the countries experiencing food shortages.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Bakur Kvezereli said that Georgia currently has around 60 000 tons of grain in storage and that Kazakhstan is under contract to deliver a further 60 to 70 000 tons by September.

However, while grain supply in Georgia may be guaranteed for the time being, rising fuel costs inevitably pushes up food prices. This highlights the importance of developing the country’s agriculture sector, a key stated aim of the current administration.

One feature of the government’s attempt to boost exports is the Cheap Credit Bank, announced at the end of last year, to provide long-term, low-interest loans to budding entrepreneurs.

The Agriculture Ministry says it has been flooded with loan applications since and by mid-May a total of GEL 18 million had been allocated to business projects across the country, creating some 20 000 jobs, according to officials.