The President of Georgia attended the process of American wheat planting and met the agronomists
The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili attended the process of American wheat planting in Kvareli and met those 18 agronomists, who had won agronomists' contest and who will attend re-training in the foreign countries
It is a very nice and sunny day today and it is very pleasant because we have started the fulfillment of two new programs - we are launching two new programs today - planting new sort of wheat in Kvareli and re-training of our agronomists.
We have decided the realization of these programs together with everyone. We have specially chosen Kvareli in order to extend our economic geography.
You know that we have wheat harvest mainly in Dedoplistkaro and partially in Sighnaghi. But it is necessary to reclaim much more land in order to get much more harvest. I want you to understand that Georgia's new economic geography is repeatedly discovered. During last several decades (two decades after the restoration of independence) we were attached to the clichés established by the Communists.
For example, Communists said that we had several sea resorts only - Gagra, Bichvinta and Kobuleti and all other places weren't considered as sea resorts. They used Anaklia, Gali region and Poti for military bases only, so were Gonio and Kvariati. Only Bakuriani was considered as a ski resort and the huge potential of mountainous Adjara, Racha and Svaneti was not used at all. Kakheti was not considered as a tourism center as well, though in regards of climate and requirements of modern world Kakheti has the biggest tourism potential not only in Georgia, but most probably in Europe and as a minimum in the scope of the region.
We were told that our agriculture had to be adapted to the agriculture of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a closed system and their decision was to produce everything inside. It was huge Russia and was small Georgia. But subtropical plants grew only here. Due to this (a girl from Kobuleti is here and she knows) we had to cultivate tangerines and oranges everywhere where they were needed or not, in order the members of Political Bureau always had Georgian lemons in their tea. We had to plant tea everywhere as well, despite the fact whether it would grow or not and if not, we would have to dig the shrubs out. Thus the plans were fulfilled and the Soviet Union proved to itself that with its own tea, lemon or other citruses it satisfies a need of the country on these products.
The same could be said about Kakheti.
You know how it was in Kakheti. Georgia is a wine-country and that
wine was produced in Kakheti first by the mankind. Wine-production is an ancient culture in Georgia and we have thousands of sorts of endemic grapes that are practically dead and now at the stage of revival. We were given fixed standards - to produce wine, because the great leader - Stalin liked Georgian wine, and the wine was taken to the Kremlin, his favorite sorts of wine were Cicka and Teli and because Stalin drank - the whole Russia had to drink Georgian wine. That's why Georgia had a fixed plan. We underwent a big damage that the Georgian wine was taken out into Russia only - not the Ukraine, I studied there and I remember that there were only Moldavian and Crimea wine there. Georgian wine was sold in Moscow, St Petersburg, Siberia...
When Russia declared embargo Georgian wine was less popular even in former Soviet Union countries. Later, you know, when Heidar Aliev was awarded the Order of Hero of Socialist Labor, Shevardnadze of course thought that he would need a title of hero as well, because otherwise his way to Political Bureau wouldn't be open (I don't say this because I want to compete with Shevardnadze - this is not interesting for me at all, but what happens today is in direct relation with those times - we had suffered a lot because of it - we must understand what caused so much misfortunes and find the way out). We were given fixed standards to have tariffs of a million tones, because Moldova was producing the same. GAI was standing everywhere and their inspectors with big bellies were opening our trunks not to take out even one basket of grapes from here. (I remember something similar in my childhood - once when our family was traveling we were stopped twelve times, each time we were checked). Then we gathered 500-600 tones of grapes, the rest was received by addition, sugar, water and it was turned into grape juice, into wine. Shevardnadze was awarded the Hero of Socialist Labor and he became a candidate to Political Bureau membership. This way Kakhetian wine was exterminated - this is a tiny detail what we received for this price.
This was the period, when traditional cultures were exterminated, for example olive trees, which grow pretty well in Kakheti and grapes were planted, but it was a hybrid, the so called sorts without chemization that didn't need much work, but wine is not produced from them, the wine produced from these sorts has no export to world market.
This mentality follows us from those days - if our people have interest to exterminate hybrids and plant olive trees that grows better, they say that the government cuts vine trees. They used to say that the government destroyed churches - we have restored 150 churches, mainly those that were destroyed during the Communist period. I remember when I first became a President I used to fly much within Georgia ) and not only Georgia). And I can compare - not even 80 percent of our land was lined and plowed what we have today. When I first flew to the Netherlands before landing at the airport the first thing that attracted my attention were the plots of lands all lined and I thought that we would never have the same in Georgia. Now we can see the same in Kakheti, Mengrelia and many other places of Georgia.
Land cultivation started in Georgia, but for it we need several factors: mechanization - you know that Japanese tractors were brought last - in the last five years we brought in 3400 tractors, but we need 1500 more, so that agriculture has as much as they need and the problem of mechanization will be solved. We had the same problem in irrigation and melioration in general - we have reached the point of the Communist period in irrigation by means of self-flowing method.
Next stage that we all have to support - is to dry Kolkheti. The realization of this program is thought by 2012. There is a lot of land there that we can use for the exporting cultures. What the Communists dried turned into slash again, because old technologies didn't give a chance to adequately take care of them. Now there are modern technologies that we have to use by all means and go through this processes once again. These are the issues of infrastructure. For the cultivation of the land it is also very important and necessary to have a right economical model. You know that a lot of land is not cultivated because in the times of Shevardnadze these lands were self-distributed by prosecutors, heads of administrations, deputy ministers who do not cultivate plots of land, they are expecting the increase of land prices in order to sell them either to the foreigners or rich Georgians, who got harvest by their hard work.
It won't go this way - we mustn't have land, which is not cultivated. That's why, new changes in the tax code gives us a chance to treat this issue in more flexible way and establish taxes on such plots of lands.
If anyone is silly enough to pay taxes for uncultivated land it's up to him to decide. But only because he was a GAI inspector or prosecutor in the Shevardnadze period and owns land - such approach is long gone. Now it is time to realize that "what you have seen, will never see again" - you have to work hard and give a chance to those people, who wish to do it.
We have a small territory and little land and we don't have any land to lose. In spring we will continue the program of assistance - the program of fertilizers and fuel - the price of fuel on the world market increases stage by stage that doesn't absolutely make me glad. This is why in the period of crises our government will get involved in it.
You remember when the embargo was declared we appointed the Generals of vintage. Last year and this year as well we considered vintage and citrus harvest as a military campaign. Consider yourself as a new corps of Georgian agriculture - educated agronomists that has to bring in modern technologies in the sphere that we are mostly interested in - it is economical success of our people.
We are speaking about economic growth. In the next three or four years we can easily double the shares of agriculture in GDP, because we start from the lowest level. It will bring the growth of Georgia's economic indicator by several percent. So we need to study working with new methods. First is seed-farming. The old methods we used and think that we know is best, is already far away from the modern standards. From the Soviet period, from Michurin's period we were taught which seeds were good, good wheat, good corn and its seeds are hopelessly old. This concerns fruits as well, some sorts of vegetables and we need to do something new.
You know that year 2009 failed in this direction, because the climate conditions didn't support us and we have imported 85-90 percent of wheat from foreign countries. We have produced only 120 thousand tones in Georgia and have imported 850-900 thousand tones. We must learn how to use new seeds this year. By the way, we have done it in Kartli already and it worked very well. People guessed the profit and didn't eat that wheat, but they have planted it again. Today, a wheat-farmer is predestined to fail if he will use only existing base of seeds. In order to change base of seeds we must do what we are doing now - American wheat is at least twice, in some places three and four times increases crop capacity. All these might end in two or three years and we will get four times more wheat. This will give us chance to provide 35-40 percent of required wheat by the end of my Presidency term, I hope. We will not be able to satisfy our need by 100 percent, but we will be able not to be frightened all the time and dependent on the events taking place in other countries. For example because of fire, earthquake, storm or because of the decision made by some big producer we must not be left hungry - we must exclude it in Georgia.
Prices on products are increasing in Georgia and Georgia must not be in the role of victim all the time. Of course we are victims, when we depend on what price in Brazil, Kazakhstan or Russia. In this case we will be able to pay more at store for bread, flour, buckwheat and so on... If prices are increasing we must grow our own crop and receive more income out of it in order to better purchase products in case of price increase.
This is modern economy.
The same can be said about corn. In this case we are doing better - we satisfy 95 percent of our requirement. This proportion is much better, but crop capacity here is too low as well. With new seeds that we are introducing this year, we can increase corn harvest three times. New agronomists must do it all. We have very educated people in villages, they know very well how to read and write. When you visit a family of a middle farmer in a village, you find such books on his shelves that 90 percent of Europeans haven't even heard about. We must understand that these people have requirement of knowledge, but someone must give them this knowledge. In order to give them knowledge we must use the experience of those countries where separate spheres are popular. Your first flow will visit Egypt soon. Egypt is not very rich country, it is a country of mixed economy and we have pretty friendly relations with them. But the most important thing is that some spheres are very well developed there. Some territories there represent the best model of developed agriculture there.
Our agriculture is not developed mainly, but we need to create separate "islands" that will create standards. If Egypt is big and two percent doesn't change much there, remained 85 percents will become attached to15 percents of modern standards here. Georgians are competitive people. This is why you have to create these advanced standards.
We will have chances to send you to Western Europe, to US, to South America, to Baltic Countries that managed to transform to modern farmer production from old Soviet methods, but we must start from somewhere. Now it is important to use the experience of separate advanced economy.
Everybody must become participant of this process, because the government alone will not be able to do anything. I was speaking with some of you from Tskaltubo. The government can construct the road to the vegetables' greenhouse, to provide you with natural gas, to negotiate with neighboring countries related beneficial tariffs on natural gas and electricity, to sign agreements with various countries in order to have low taxes on export, we can provide you with seeds, but the government cannot provide neither the development of separate farm or increase of crops. We will bring you seeds, but you must plant, plow, harvest them... you must create your own forecasts to support yourselves.
The same can be said about all other spheres of economics. The factory opened by the government will not work. The private entrepreneur opens a factory. Even if we spend budget money that by the way comes from entrepreneur it will still not work, because a factory must poses certain gap and the entrepreneur must know what is his concrete income from this business. We have created the following - Georgia will be among ten countries out of 200 in doing business.
Doing business here is very simple - do it! We have one of the best infrastructures in Europe - we have constructed roads, we provided you with natural gas and electricity, tariffs are low compare to other countries - build, plant, crop, do it!
The easiest thing is to blame the government. I am the first who would blame itself and would be unsatisfied by the work of government. But lets everybody look in his or her hearts. Let's work hard.
The only thing we need is knowledge. You must give this knowledge to our people. We are counting on you greatly. I was never so glad when any group went on re-training as I was when I heard you were leaving. Many our citizens go for training abroad - judges, road-builders, economists, government representatives, many students were financed from the President's fund in order to study various professions, but no one is that important today as agronomists and agriculture specialists. The name of Georgia in Greek and Latin languages - the word Georgia is related to earth and farming. We must return country its function.
Time has changed, we were transformed to industrial epoch, but today, like no other time before the world has challenge in feeding necessity - the number of people increased and everybody wants to live better. 800 millions of people were hungry in China before, now everybody has food. 900 million people were on the edge of starvation, now minimum 700 millions have food. When price on food increase, nothing is left on place, this is why our development must be ahead of other countries' level in order not to be left behind and not to leave our people hungry.
You will explain this best to people next to you and later to the rest of Georgia.
I want to wish you success.
The new foreign-educated agronomists' elite is created in Georgia that will revive Georgia's agriculture, return its old name, old fame, development and will turn it to stronger and wealthier country.
We all have great hopes in you!