The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) combined to support the first Caucasus Dairy Congress event in Tbilisi.
The goal is to raise standards, build capacity and improve safety in Georgia’s dairy sector, as well as making the sector more attractive for investment.
More than 200 participants from the Caucasus and eastern Europe attended the event, including dairy farmers, processors, equipment suppliers, industry professionals and Georgian government representatives.
Victoria Zinchuk, associate director of the EBRD agribusiness team said commercial dairy farmers in Georgia have made considerable strides in a short time, with some producers improving production by 20% in less than a year.
Georgia’s dairy farmers face challenges to modernize and increase production, especially after signing a free trade agreement with Europe.
The EBRD said Georgia has a good investment climate and agro-climatic conditions for dairy farming. It says demand for milk, cheese and other dairy products, including some products unique to the country, continues to grow.
The EBRD and FAO have trained 40 commercial farmers in modern dairy production, and also arranged for 20 farmers to visit dairy farms in Ukraine and attend workshops.
Investment in Georgia
Since the project began, farmers trained by FAO and the EBRD have invested more than $2.5m upgrading operations, building facilities and buying more productive livestock.
Also, the EBRD says, a group of farmers set up the Association of Commercial Milk Producers of Georgia, which is modeled on a similar association in Ukraine.
The EBRD has invested more than €2.98bn ($3.19bn) in 202 projects in Georgia to date, while the FAO mandate in Georgia is to support national efforts to promote food security and sustainable development.