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Georgia’s shrinking agriculture sector

By M. Alkhazashvili
Monday, June 9
Part of the government’s 50-Day Action plan announced in February is reviving the agriculture sector.

Not long ago agriculture was an important part of the economy: in 1994 it accounted for 46 percent of GDP. Today, despite employing 55 percent of the population—many of whom are self-employed farmers—agriculture accounts for only 12 percent of GDP.

Among the promises in the government’s action plan is the sale of state-owned farmland below the market price and the distribution of fuel to farmers. At the end of March, President Mikheil Saakashvili said 350 tractors had been imported for farmers and poor rural families had received 20 liters of diesel fuel, as part of the government’s program.

However, analysts say that the productiveness of the country’s agriculture sector is limited because of the high number of small farmers: only 5000 farmers out of some 700 000 own land plots of more than ten hectares, the news agency Regnum reports.

The news agency also says a total of 300 000 hectares of arable land remains uncultivated.