Georgian farmers increase yields and reduce costs with new environmentally friendly techniques introduced by EU and FAO
With almost half of Georgians involved in agriculture, any improvement in agriculture will have a big impact. Since 2019, the EU and FAO have been working together under the third phase of the ENPARD program to bring modern and environmentally friendly farming techniques to Georgia by organizing demonstration plots and agricultural extension services. This harvest, the results are there – Georgian farmers significantly increase yields and reduce costs by about 30%.
The results of some of the beneficiary farmers were observed during the recent field visit of EU and FAO representatives to the demonstration plots in the municipality of Gori. Georges dehoux, Program Manager for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Security to the Delegation of the European Union in Georgiaand Javier Sanz Allvarez,FAO Program Coordinatormet the EU and FAO supported local farmers and to participaterein the harvest.
One of thee plotsis located near the village of Khurvaleti in the municipality of Gori, orlocal farmer Gela Gogniashvili owns a 10 ha wheat plot. In October 2020, Gela decided to join the program supported by the EU and FAO and to test the no-till on half of his land. With EU and FAO support, he was able to use a tractor and a non–FAO seed drill equipment and agronomists trained him and helped monitor the plot during the growing season.
Gela Gonashvili said he had made significant savings with the new method as he had no plowing, disc or planting costs. He can already compare his two plots – traditionally processed and no-till – and according to preliminary observation, the no-till crop seems healthier and more productive.
EU and FAO representatives also visited Soso Khuroshvili, a local wheat farmer, who also planted the Georgian variety of wheat “Lomtagori” on his 3 ha of land with the no-till method. In previous years, Soso obtained an average harvest of 3 to 3.5 tonnes per hectare. Like Gela Gogniashvili, this year Soso also expects a better harvest in terms of both quality and quantity of wheat.
Another local farmer, Gocha Danielashvili, also sowed on one hectare with the no-till method. He has already harvested 3.5 tonnes per hectare, about 800 kilograms more per hectare compared to previous years.
All farmers confirmed their interest to continue using no-till for the next years, and they expect many other farmers to also join.
“One of the most important elements of EU aid is demonstrating the benefits of new agricultural techniques. Today we have seen such a demonstration on no-till wheat sowing, and the results are quite spectacular in terms of both productivity and quality. It is particularly gratifying to see farmers ‘interest and commitment to this new technique, which has the added benefit of helping to mitigate climate change in the sector.’– declared Georges Dehoux, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Safety Program Manager at the European Union Delegation in Georgia“No-till is a very promising practice in Georgia, we are seeing a growing interest from farmers, who produce more and save money. On the FAO side, we are fully committed to promoting sustainable practices and climate-smart agriculture practices, such as no-till. It also falls under the Green Deal approaches that the EU promotes in Europe and around the world..‘– Said Javier Sanz Alvarez, FAO Program Coordinator.
No-tillage is an environmentally friendly grain growing practice when the farmer does not plow the soil, resulting in better soil structure, reduced water evaporation in the fields, where better water use and reduced fuel use for tractors.This practice has many advantages, as it is significantly less damaging to the soil, leaves less carbon footprint, saves valuable resources and is very cost effective.
2021 is the second year of implementation of conservation agriculture demonstration plots (no-till practice) in Georgia under the EU-FAO ENPARD III project. Since 2019, the EU and FAO have trained more than 1,300 farmers in modern farming techniques, established over 80 demonstration plots in Georgia, established 10 farmer field schools, provided farmers with 160 grants of over $ 3.1 million.