To boost the production of high quality seeds and planting material and to comply with the upcoming certification system aligned to the international standards – these are the main goals of the newly established Georgian Seeds and Saplings Association (GEOSSA). The association was established with the support from the EU and FAO under the project “EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia”.
GEOSSA aims to bring Georgian seeds, seedlings and saplings producers together, to address one of the most serious challenges in the Georgian agriculture sector – the poor quality of locally produced seeds and saplings due to lack of certified local production. This is pushing many farmers to use imported saplings although the cost is twice compared to the local offer.
To tackle this issue, GEOSSA will support private nurseries and seed producers to improve the quality of their production, while encouraging collaboration within the sector and advocating for the producers’ interests at the governmental institutions level.
The combined actions implemented by GEOSSA and the other stakeholders will contribute and lead the sector towards the compliance of the upcoming certification standards to be able to produce only high quality, certified and 100% healthy saplings to be sold on the local market, but also to open opportunities of export of locally produced seeds and saplings.
“There is a direct link between the quality of the planting materials and productivity. Having a standardised certification system is important for Georgia not only for avoiding pests and increasing plant health, but also in the view of the approximation to the EU standards that will facilitate exports to the EU and the world. We need a lot of cooperation among each other, we need to learn from each other and this newly created association will be a great platform for our joint work to happen,” stated Dominik Papenheim, Team Leader for Economic Development and Market Opportunities at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
“It is critical for the agricultural sector to ensure the quality of the seeds and saplings that are produced locally so that farmers can be sure of the quality of what they are planting in their farms. GEOSSA needs to play a key role in the development of a strong private sector of seed and sapling producers. But there is much more, as Georgia can be proud of many local varieties that can be very interesting for farmers worldwide. Today is a very important day for Georgian agriculture,” – FAO-EU Programme Coordinator, Javier Sanz Alvarez stated.
GEOSSA is initially founded by ten Georgian private nursery companies, and the association will actively advocate for other local seed and sapling producers to join its ranks, as well as identify the main public and private stakeholders relevant for the sector and facilitate the cooperation among them.
“I would like to thank the EU and FAO for supporting the creation of our association, I believe that our efforts will help to establish certified seeds and saplings production in Georgia, raise competitiveness among the producers to better satisfy local market needs, as well trade opportunities abroad,” noted the Head of the Association’s Board of Directors, Berdia Silagadze.
The presentation of the association took place online, considering COVID-19 related restrictions. Apart from the founding nurseries and donor organizations, the representatives of Georgian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, higher educational institutions as well as potential cluster stakeholders participated in the presentation, which gathered over fifty participants.
EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia Joint Programme, implemented by FAO and other UN agencies (UNDP, IOM, UNIDO), was launched in 2018. The main goal of the Programme is to enhance entrepreneurship and business sophistication by strengthening the capacities of Georgian government and local entities to develop and operate clusters and support companies directly with strategic investments.
· Sophio Altunashvili, Communication Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representation in Georgia, 577 109950, Sophio.Altunashvili@fao.org
· Tamar Khuntsaria, Senior Economic Development Expert, EU4Georgia III, email@example.com