The Kapanadze family are actively involved in agriculture in Lagodekhi municipality, Kakheti. David and Valentina Kapanadze and their son Dato grow a variety of vegetables, including eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweetcorn. In 2019, the family engaged in the EU programme to create demo plots together with agricultural experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). David Kapanadze says he was initially rather doubtful about the project, yet was reassured after meeting with FAO agronomists who advised him on some modern agricultural practices.
Under the EU initiative, the Kapanadzes completely changed their land cultivation practices, shifting from traditional farming to modern approaches appropriate for local environmental conditions and needs.
The family started with growing eggplant on a half-hectare demo plot. With the help of the FAO experts, they introduced modern approaches for irrigation, use of fertilizers and pest management. The focus was on utilization of methods, such as mulching, that would protect the crops from drought, rain and various pests.
In the village of Tamariani, the Kapanadzes were the first to be involved in the EU-funded FAO project supporting Georgia’s agricultural sector under the ENPARD III programme. After the family quadrupled their yields thanks to proper agribusiness planning, their neighbors also joined the EU’s initiative. The EU and FAO share the goal of supporting the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) and other relevant agencies, and providing funds or advice to farmers in order to make farming a competitive business.
“We decided to utilize and put into practice all the knowledge that the EU and FAO experts shared with us. We followed all their recommendations and thus quadrupled our eggplant yields. Rains largely destroyed crops on neighboring lands yet our yield survived both the weather and pests,” – says Valentina Kapanadze, owner of the demo plot.
In addition to eggplant, the family soon decided to start mass production of sweetcorn. It all started with a market research conducted by FAO that discovered a high demand for locally produced sweetcorn in Georgia. Given the demand and with the EU’s support, FAO assisted the family in planting corn on an area of 0.3 ha and introducing the best agricultural practices including the use of high-quality seed, proper tillage techniques and efficient irrigation. The family then sold the sweetcorn to the Carrefour chain supermarkets, adding to the retailer’s new image strategy of selling products branded as ‘Made in Georgia’. According to the Kapanadzes, they sell 2-3 tons of eggplant and almost the same amount of sweet corn every week.
“I could never imagine that one day my product would be sold at Carrefour. I am so happy that people are buying my sweet corn. This is my first cooperation with the hypermarket and I hope it would continue in future. I’d like to thank the EU and FAO for this opportunity,” – David Kapanadze says.
This is the first case of contracted agricultural production under the project, which, on the one hand, aims at increasing the farmers’ income, and on the other hand, at promoting products made in Georgia. The EU-funded ENPARD project implemented by FAO will continue and scale up such kind of support to farmers. Finally, it facilitates wider business relationships between smallholder farmers and retailers, and helps supply high-quality ‘Made in Georgia’ products to consumers.
The Kapanadzes actively share the acquired knowledge and experience. Dato Kapanadze is an active member of the Farmers’ Field School that unites 12-13 local farmer families, providing a platform for discussing current issues, helping each other and timely sharing news. As a result of the shared experience, the villagers arranged demo plots similar to the Kapanadzes’ where they grow different vegetables.
The Kapanadzes planned to start growing potatoes on their plot this year but had to postpone due to the pandemic. The family hopes that everything would get back to normal shortly, and with the EU’s and FAO’s support they would soon offer many new products to the Georgian market.
Mulching covers up soil with different materials like plant parts or harvest leftovers, and enhances soil capacity, protects from erosion, and keeps moisture in. It also controls weeds, saving work.
Drip irrigation allows water to reach plant roots and is 40% more effective than surface irrigation and 20% more effective than sprinklers. It controls weeds, reduces erosion and saves time as one can do other field tasks while irrigating.
For more stories like this and information on the campaign, visit: A Good Harvest.