Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) has identified the development of the vegetable market in Georgia as one of its main priorities and is in the process of developing several initiatives to stimulate further growth in this sector. Within the scope of this strategy, the vegetable market includes all vegetable market value chain actors. The competitiveness of the value chain varies significantly from actor to actor, and there are many gaps in the value chain that must be resolved to increase the competitiveness of Georgian vegetables both domestically and in the international export markets.
This strategy directly addresses the gaps in the vegetable market – including the primary production, postharvest handling, and distribution stages – as outlined by the EPI Vegetable Market Assessment. Through overall increased productivity gains and by understanding, targeting, and filling these gaps, the vegetable sector can increase domestic sales and become competitive internationally.
The gaps and challenges to sustainable competiveness are summarized below:
- Georgian producers are not educated on proper farm management, chemical application, business and financial management, export processing, and the use of high-quality inputs and technology;
- The overall quality of Georgian vegetables is relatively low compared to international and regional competitors’ quality standards;
- Production volumes are very low during offseason months, requiring imported vegetables to satisfy up to 25% of annual domestic consumption;
- There is an insufficient amount of cold storage space available in Georgia;
- The available cold storage services options for the value chain are inadequate;
- There is an insufficient number of market actors within the post-harvest handling infrastructure – including collection, sorting/grading, packaging, and distribution;
- The majority of Georgian producers have no information about export market buyers, prices, or requirements, which creates obstacles to exportation;
- Food safety standards are generally not practiced or enforced throughout the entire production and distribution value chain;
- There is no standardized system for vegetable classification or grading;
- There is no marketing or branding campaign to promote Georgian vegetable products;
- The majority of producers are unable to access credit facilities, because banks consider these projects to have excessive risk, because the banks have no reliable information about the risks related to production and many producers have limited operating experience.