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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Mar
14

A Portrait of a Tushetian Farmer as an Entrepreneur

We first met Gogi Elanidze in winter 2015, when interviewing farmers in Rati’s village, Kvemo Alvani. Located in Akhmeta municipality, Kvemo Alvani and its twin, Zemo Alvani, are not your usual Kakhetian villages. The two serve as the winter base for the people of Tusheti, an isolated valley separated from Kakheti by the 3000m high Abano mountain pass. Getting settled. Kvemo Alvani’s rectangular shape and straight parallel streets betray a fairly recent, Soviet or...
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Mar
12

Dumb Farmers Do Not Grow Big Potatoes

This week, the Georgian public was shocked when a gross lack of competence and aptitude among the country’s teachers was unveiled.  As DFWatch.net reports on March 10th (quoting a Georgian source), of the 10,552 teachers registered for a competence check that took place in January, only 6,477 showed up in the first place, and of these, only 1,101 passed the test. However, the Georgian economy is struck by severe deficits in knowledge and skills in many sectors, and to find such examples, one does not have to look at industries that operate close to ...
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Feb
22

A Georgian Man without Land Is Nobody?

Just like Duddy Kravitz, Georgian men (and women) appear to be reluctant to part with their parcels of land, however small and unproductive. Whatever the reason, Georgia sees almost no structural change out of agriculture, and, as a result, very low productivity and income growth for the poorest strata of its population. As of today, employment (or, rather, under-employment) in agriculture is a staggering 45% of Georgia’s total labor force.  As we have written on these pages, the notion that too many Georgians are ‘stuck in agriculture’ was a k...
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Feb
15

Young Seedlings of Georgia's Agriculture

Ancient Greeks’ fascination with Georgia was not limited to the Golden Fleece. Legend has it that ‘Georgia’ comes from the Greek γεωργός (Georgios), reflecting the advanced land plowing practices of Georgian tribes, which distinguished them from their nomadic and yet unsettled neighbors. The Georgians (Colchians and Iberians, to be more precise) must have really made a formidable impression on the Argonauts to deserve such a recognition. Fast forward to the 21st century. According to the CIA World Factbook, Georgian agriculture employs a mind-blowingly h...
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Feb
01

Let It Be

When Saint Nino, one of Georgia’s most venerated saints, traveled to Mtskheta back in the fourth century, she stopped to erect a grapevine cross in Foka, a small settlement on the shores of Lake Paravani some 2000 meters above sea level. Saint Nino must have traveled during the summer since, even today, Foka is very difficult to reach for about 6 months of the year. Heaps of snow block all major access roads during the long and cold winter.  In 1992, as Georgia was going through the most painful period in its recent history, six young Georgian ...
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