Georgia’s wine industry is heavily dependent on export to CIS countries, especially Russia. Two main short-run risks associated with the Russian market presently affect Georgian wine exports: The possibility that Russia might cancel its free trade agreement with Georgia, and the economic slowdown in Russia which could lead to reduced demand for Georgian wine. These short run risks are substantial, albeit manageable as they will reduce Georgian wine exports in total by only USD 28.5 m or 17%.

In the long run, the Russian wine market is likely to stagnate or even decline as the Russian population shrinks and ages. Therefore, steps should be taken to reduce the dependence on this market and diversify exports. We recommend several measures to expand exports to non-CIS markets:

On July 1, 2015, the Stakeholders’ Forum on the Tea Sector took place in Kutaisi. This was a first event in a series of dialogues about agriculture and rural development in Georgia organized by the ISET Policy Institute in partnership with CARE International in the Caucasus, the Regional Development Association, and the Georgian Farmers Association.

The main goal of the forum was to clearly visualize the challenges and opportunities faced by the various sector actors involved, including input suppliers, farmers, cooperatives, processors, market intermediaries, consumers, and exporters with the overall goals of improving productivity in the sector, connecting farmers with new business opportunities, exploring new export markets, and developing and managing Georgian tea brands.

Agriculture makes an important contribution to economic development in Georgia. Value added in agriculture accounted for 9.3% of Georgian GDP in 2013 and 53.4% of employment (World Bank, 2014a). Agriculture also provides an essential basis for the food, beverages and tobacco processing industries, which together accounted for just over one-third of value added in manufacturing in Georgia in 2010 (World Bank, 2014a). Hence, overall agricultural and food production in Georgia accounts for roughly 14% of GDP.

In addition, agriculture growth is closely linked to the alleviation of poverty, which is especially concentrated in rural areas in Georgia. While 14.8% of the Georgian population lived below the national poverty line in 2012, this share was only 10.5% in urban areas, but 18.8% in rural areas. Numerous studies have demonstrated that agricultural growth is an especially effective means of reducing poverty: according to evidence cited in the World Development Report (World Bank, 2008), growth in agriculture is 3.5 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth outside of agriculture in China; in Latin America agricultural growth is 2.7 times more effective.

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