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Alasania slams Government for agriculture neglect

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, May 19
Our Georgia – Free Democrats presented the strategy for agricultural development of Georgia for 2012-2016 on May 18. Having considered all the remarks and recommendations made by farmers during the discussions of the previous draft the leader of the party Irakli Alasania criticized the Georgian Government for failing to elaborate a relevant strategy for seven years. Talking of the development of the agricultural sector as one of the preconditions for economical growth, Alasania worried that less than 1% of the country's budget is being spent on agriculture annually.

“This all has been negatively reflected on the sector as 80% of agricultural products are being imported while the rate of unemployment has reached a terrible figure,” Alasania stated. Sharing the particular strategy on developing the agricultural fund oppositional leader said this would make the Georgian Government increase the budget share five folds for agricultural purposes. “Moreover we lead negotiations with the representatives of different states to get support from donors in developing the Georgian agricultural infrastructure and privileged conditions for the peasants,” he added.

Stressing the necessity for protecting the local market Alasania also emphasized the importance of returning to the Russian market along with searching new areas. As the member of the party Davit Onoprishvili told the media Our Georgia - Free Democrats considered the research released by Georgian scientists and global analysts before developing their own strategy. Hoping for a successful strategy the oppositional party also explained the necessity for developing peasant corporations for making it easier for the state and donors to better support the farmers’ activities.

Economic analyst Gia Khukhashvili welcomed the party’s initiatives but couldn’t make an optimistic forecast on cooperation between the sides to The Messenger. “The Georgian Government has defined agriculture as one of the priority sectors for the country but doesn’t want to do anything to revive the field. That’s why the creation of a special fund would merit development of agriculture by protecting the Georgian peasants from uncompetitive conditions,” the analyst told us.

Worrying of the low quality of the imported goods Khukhashvili suggested a protectionist approach towards the local peasants from the donors’ side even before the sector could be properly promoted. On the question of whether the Government would accept the oppositional initiative and start cooperation in the issue the analyst told us that “unfortunately the Government rejects even the most progressive ideas [from their opponents] because they feel as if they are the wisest in all directions”.