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Short Supply of President’s Tractors and Fuel Vouchers

Gulo Kokhodze, Akhaltsikhe

Villagers have started land preparation and cultivation in spite of the fact that most peasants in Akhaltiskhe district have not received their promised fuel vouchers as yet. Many in the district have not had the opportunity to access the farm tractors presented by the Ministry of Agriculture for their district.

The provision of fuel vouchers is another program under the much acclaimed Fifty-Day-Program for Poverty Reduction. However, villagers have not received fuel vouchers to prepare their land for spring planting.

Aleksi Kostanashvili, assistant to the Akhaltsikhe District Governor stated that there are 14,945 families in the district. However, on March 28 the regional administration was unable to distribute fuel vouchers to all of them.

“We will receive what vouchers are yet to be distributed for now most of those living off the land in the Akhaltsikhe district still have not been provided them,” said Aleksi Kostanishvili.

Both in towns and villages vouchers are distributed to each family and not according to whether they have plots or not. It is thought that the district administration is in no hurry to distribute the vouchers because the fuel to be exchange is not in large enough amount to be distrusted all at once.
Currently, only 67,785 liters of diesel fuel has been delivered in Akhaltiskhe district, and this amount covers only about 25 percent of total amount that must be distributed throughout the district. 67,785 liters of fuel is determined to be enough for 13,152 printed vouchers.

“Every family will receive vouchers. The fuel will be delivered and everybody will be satisfied,” said Kostanishvili.

Tamaz Gogoladze, a farmer, has already cultivated his plot of land. “How could I wait for their aid? They did not distribute the fuel on time and why should I need it now? Is it wine to be saved?” The peasant is joking and diesel is something that is needed now and not later.

At the end of 2007 Akhaltiskhe Municipality Board received four tractors, three ploughs, two mowing-machines and one cultivator. The equipment was transferred to the just-established farmer’s union within the Municipality Board for symbolic price.

Vazha Chitashvili, Municipality Governor, stated they cultivate the plots for peasants free of charge in the district. Tractor drivers will receive a salary of 300 GEL a month from the local government.

The family of Lena Gogoladze, a resident of the village of Zikili, has not received fuel yet but when tractors were brought to the village she was able to arrange on her own for her plot to be plowed with her own fuel source.

“The number of tractors transferred to the municipalities was estimated according to the total amount of agricultural land,” said Aleksandre Tsintsadze, Deputy Minister of Agriculture on November 7 2007 at the meeting in the office of Regional Administration.

However, four tractors are not enough for 46 villages. Part of population still has to rent tractors; some of them have their own tractors, or their neighbors have tractors.

“We have our own tractors in the village. I cultivate five hectares of land and grow potato on it,” said Gagik Baboian.

“It is getting late to plant barley and why should we wait for tractor? The only choice is arraing for custom tractor work,” said Shota Kupradze, a resident of the village of Klde.

Maldin Baboian has also not received fuel but he too has already plowed and cultivated his land.

“People cultivate their plots with “president’s tractors” in Pamaji. Of course we need them but nobody provides them to us and what can we do now?” a seventy-five-year-old farmer.

“Villages-Skhvilisi, Tskaltbila, Pamaji, Sadzeli have their own tractors and they did not ask for any agricultural equipment. We provide the tractors and implements to the villages where they are needed,” said Kostanishvili.

He explained that four tractors are not still enough and additional four tractors are necessary to satisfy total needs for the district.

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