Lela Khechoshvili, Kakheti
Traditionally, the harvest in Kakheti region will start from Alazani embankment villages in Dedoplistskaro district from the end of August. State budget will allocate subsidies but companies have not yet made comments how much they will pay for one kilo of grape.
According to the information of the Ministry of Agriculture, about 200 000 tons of grape is expected to harvest in Kakheti. More than 90 companies accepted grape last year and starting price of one kilo grape was 1 lari; it even reached 3 lari. The farmers sold their grape without obstacles and many of them started to plant new vineyards. Recently, the price of vineyards also increased in Kakheti. In the past, one hectare of vineyard cost 2 000- 3000 lari but this year the price reached 10 -15000 lari.
This year, wine-companies do not comment on the tentative price they will pay for grape. Farmers doubt the price might be lower that is connected with political-economic crisis in Russia and Ukraine that causes reduced prices and export of wine on these markets. The companies still have unsold reserves of last year wines.
The state budget will allocate subsidies for the grape this year too. Minister of Agriculture Otar Danelia said the state will add 35 tetri to basic price of one kilo Rkatsiteli and Green Kakhuri and 15 tetri for one kilo Saperavi. Representatives of the National Agency of Wine state the total price of the grape will be regulated by market.
According to the government’s decision, the state budget will subside farmers instead wine companies like it happened last year. Farmers will get the subsided funds for their sold grape at the bank within two weeks time.
Although nobody makes official comments on the grape price this year, according to unofficial information the companies might pay Rkatsiteli for 80 tetri and Saperavi for 1, 50 lari.
The farmers protest the price and state starting price for one kilo grape must not be less than 1 lari. Otherwise they will not reimburse the financial expenditures they had to look after the vineyards.
Attorney of governor in Samtatskaro village Gulo Nadirashvili said before harvest grape must contain at least 24 grades of glucose. Now, grape is still sour and will get sweet in a week time.
“We have worse harvest this year than last year because it was draft and we could not irrigate vineyards. I have 1 hectare of vineyard and collected 10 tons of grape. Some of my neighbors collected 15 tons. This year it was very expensive to take care of the grape; I poisoned it nine times, cultivated several times but irrigated only once. Looking after the grape is very expensive job. I took loans. When I get money for the sold grape first I will pay the bank debt and then others. We do not know price of grape; nobody has come here yet. They say price will be lower this year. I will not sell grape early maybe they will increase price; but if they do not, I will have to sell for lower price, because I cannot throw them away,” Nikoloz Sardalashvili from Samtatskaro village said.
Farmer Suliko Tsintsadze from Samtatskaro said they spend about 3 000 lari per year to take care of 1 hectare vineyard. “I have 1, 5 hectares of vineyard in non-irrigated area. I have to pay 700-800 lari per irrigation. This year it was draft and irrigated the yard twice. It means the quality of harvest will be average. One and two irrigation is not enough for good harvest. We do not know prices so far; we only know amount of subsidies from the state. In order to completely reimburse our hard work and expenditure, they should pay at least the same price they did last year. If they pay only 85 tetri or 1, 50 lari it might be equal to our work but it cannot reimburse our debts. We have families and need to keep families with this money. Everything is very expensive; we have to live on it!”
Farmers from other districts also complain about tentative price of grape. “They say the companies will pay 80-90 tetri for Rkatsiteli. We will lose with this price. Last year they paid good money and we worked hard this year with that hope. I poisoned the yard 13 times, cultivated three times – everything was very expensive. People said the grape would be in great demand this year too because wine export has increased; now when harvest is approaching, they say factories could not sell wine and will pay only 80 tetri for grape. Nobody cares about farmers,” farmer Aleksandre Solomnishvili from Gurjaani said.
Dedoplistskaro district deputy governor Solomon Gorashvili told humanrights.ge that harvest will start at the end of August from Samtatskaro village. The companies will regulate the price and the state will issue subsidies. It is unknown which factories will accept grape and how much they will pay for it. However, in accordance to the Ministry of Agriculture, the farmers will not have problems in selling grape.
“The government is absolutely ready and has developed a plan to smoothly organize the harvest this year and not to create any problems of selling for farmers,” deputy minister of agriculture Levan Davitashvili said on August 19 in Telavi, when he together with the chairman of the National Agency of Wine Giorgi Samanishvili and Kakheti regional governor Irakli Shiolashvili met heads of local information consultation services and representatives of local self-governments in Telavi.
According to the Ministry, this year farmers harvested about 30% more grape than last year. “Unfortunately, recent political developments in neighboring countries and hard economic situation in the region reduced export of Georgian wine to large export markets that will consequently cause reduced demand on grape. Thus, in order to maintain positive dynamic of the wine producing industry and to satisfy interests of the farmers, the government of Georgia decide to subside both white and red grape. In the frame of 2015 Harvest the state will pay 35 tetri for 1 kilo Rkatsiteli and Kakhuri Green and 15 tetri for 1 kilo Saperavi,” Levan Davitashvili said.
Chairman of the National Agency of Wine Giorgi Samanishvili said the coordination office of the Harvest 2015 will be opened in Telavi by the end of August and the office will work 24 hours. The office will have branches in Gurjaani district too. They will have hotline 2 47 0101. Like last year, the sold grape will be registered by special computer programs in the united data base and anybody will have opportunity to check the information online.