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"Plant the Future" program in Georgia positively affects the nursery sector 

Agriculture is one of the prominent sectors for the country, where it counts millenniums of successful practice. Georgia’s soil and climate created the foundation for many crop varieties, as an example of 5 endemic wheat, which is coming from Georgia. Perennial fruit crops are another important field for the country, attention to which has increased from 2015, this is when state program “Plant the Future” took its start, subsidizing up to 70% of saplings and irrigation system costs for the establishment of farms.

This program has had a positive effect on the nursery sector, as by 2020 annual demand on the saplings have reached 8 million. The market continues to grow, it is predicted to have an overall market for 20 million saplings per year. Main difficulties of the process are related to quality of the planting materials that have been challenged against trueness to type and phytosanitary aspects, those two factors caused up to 40% of the import of planting materials under the state program. While the country has a great knowledge in techniques of vegetative propagation of plants, it was missing the certification system under which two aspects would be evaluated and relevant confirmation issued.

As a next step, Government of Georgia, in the scope of its association with EU has elaborated on the legislative framework, mandatory certification system for the production/propagation of the planting material is to be introduced from 2024, obliging all the nurseries to undergo their qualification under the CAC (conformitas agrarian communitas) certification. The system will be checking nurseries and it is going to challenge their production on trueness to type and against phytosanitary aspect, as a result relevant plant passports shall be issued and attached to the batches of the produced materials.

Nurseries have taken the topic beyond and are actively developing mother blocks for scions and rootstocks under the high category, creating opportunity of producing saplings under the certified category, making the end product attractive for both domestic and neighboring markets, including EU.

Adapting to the system requires change and modification of infrastructures, which creates good investment opportunities. The forming joint ventures and establishment of small in vitro laboratories, as a basis for getting needed planting materials under the high category in a needed amount. Joint ventures will be getting additional benefits while creating mother blocks under the basic category as the process will be supported by the state program where have of the costs are the subject of the subsidy.

Georgian Seeds and Saplings Association (GEOSSA) is uniting most of the sector representatives, and is actively working with them in overcoming discussed challenges and appears as a platform for interaction with the foreign nurseries and investors.

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