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Peasants renew protest rally over low grape prices

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, September 15
“I hold meetings with the peasants, but I have no time for those who are trying to earn political points” , Agriculture Minister Otar Danelia said in response to a question if he will meet with Kakhetian peasants who continue to hold protest rallies over low grape prices.

“I have met with the locals but I am not going to respond to provocations and become the part of somebody’s scenario,” Danelia stated.

According to the Minister, the government is unable to increase the grape price, for the demand on wine has decreased and also there is some wine supply left in the country.

“As for subsidies, we maintain the same position. Peasants have a choice to sell grapes to private enterprises or to state ones, where the minimum price of grapes is 70 tetri. They can also take grapes to the regions, where prices are higher- between 1 to 2.5 GEL,” said the Minister.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Levan Davitashvili has labeled the peasants’ protest in Kakheti region as a provocation.

He believes that the members of the United National Movement are trying to drag the winegrowers in the provocation.

“The price of white grapes is 70 tetri, Saperavi costs 80; the prices will increase in the active phase of harvest. The process is well-organized and it will be better than last year,” Davitashvili said.

It should be noted that Grape Harvest (Rtveli) season was officially opened in Kakheti on September 10 on the background of the rally in Gurjaani region.

During several days of protest rallies, the farmers demand only the increase of grape price, saying that grape wholesale price, set by the government will even not cover their expenses.

The protesters claim they will not stop rallies until the government satisfies their demand.

Georgian wine exports have declined by 45.7% in the first eight months of this year to 19.8 million 0.75-liter bottles, compared to 36.5 million in the same period of 2014.

The fall is caused by sharp drop in wine exports to Russia and Ukraine, which declined by 58% and 63% year-on-year, respectively, in January-August, 2015.

The declining export of the Georgian wine has pushed grape prices down by 40-55% compared to last year, when the average price for a kilo of grapes varied from GEL 1 to GEL 1.9, depending on quality and variety of grapes in Kakheti region, which is home of more than half of Georgia’s vineyards.