This report was prepared under the mandate ‘Analysis of the National Agricultural Knowledge and Information System (AKIS) in Georgia’ commissioned for the UNDP project ‘Modernization of Vocational Education and Training (VET) System Related to Agriculture in Georgia’. The mandate includes three larger fields of inquiry, namely an analysis of the Georgian AKIS actors and linkages including a visualization, the identification of assets and gaps in the current system, and recommendations on how to improve. For this purpose, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 36 key informants from different stakeholder groups (government, education and research, farmer-based organizations, private sector, and NGOs). This information was complemented with a brief literature review and data from various relevant websites, as well as the research team’s own knowledge and observations. The preliminary findings were discussed during a multi-stakeholder workshop.
The study reveals that the Georgian AKIS comprises a wide variety of actors. On the government side, the most important entities are the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) with their Information Consultation Centres (ICCs) at regional and municipal levels, bodies of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports (MoESCS) dealing with VET and tertiary education, and a number of subunits of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development (MoESD) supporting exports and the creation of start-up companies in all economic sectors including agriculture. With respect to education, there are seven universities, one teaching university, and nine VET colleges offering programs in the field of agriculture. In research, there is the Scientific-Research Centre of Agriculture (SRCA) which was established in 2014, the long-standing Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS), and research groups at different universities and private companies (especially input suppliers) conducting their own research. Furthermore, there are numerous general and commodity-specific farmer-based organizations out of which the Georgian Farmers Association (GFA), Farmer of the Future (FoF), Elkana, and the Georgian Wine Association seem to be the most active and powerful. The private sector—especially input suppliers—plays a crucial role in the provision of products, services, and information, and in the introduction of innovative technologies and practices. Overall, there exist up to 50 relatively large input suppliers producing or importing various types of inputs and distributing them to a large number of small-scale outlets in the regions. Many of these outlets were created during an agricultural voucher initiative from MEPA and are assumed to be the most important personal contact point for small-scale farmers. Last but not least, international donors and NGOs strongly influence the system through their programmes and projects linked to agriculture.