ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
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Where Is the Free Lunch?

 DOES GEORGIA BENEFIT (OR NOT) FROM THE DROP IN INTERNATIONAL FOOD PRICES? An average Georgian household spends more than 40% of its budget on food. It therefore stands to reason that Georgian consumers are quite sensitive to food prices, which may be very good news considering recent developments in global commodity markets. According to the latest World Bank’s Food Price Watch, “international food prices declined by 14% between August 2014 and May 2015, sliding into a five-year low.” For lower-middle income households this could result in a 6% inc...
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What Kind of "State" Does a Country Need?

When Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited Georgia in late April 2015, we were once again reminded that history is not over yet, certainly not in the sense pronounced by Francis Fukuyama in his 1992 book End of History and the Last Man: "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human go...
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Does it Make Sense to Subsidize Smallholder Georgian Agriculture, and if so How?

While Georgia never faced anything like a wartime food crisis, the agricultural policies implemented by the Georgian Dream coalition government in 2013-2015 did not lack in ambition, seeking to make up for more than a decade of “active neglect” of Georgia’s smallholder agriculture by the Saakashvili administration. In this piece, we take a critical look at one of the first government initiatives, the Agricultural Card Program, introduced in February 2013.  According to the then Minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze, the program aimed to “revive G...
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Should Georgia Sell its Agricultural Lands to Foreigners?

A BIT OF HISTORY: THE GOOD… Until 2012, Georgia has been encouraging foreigners to purchase land, bring modern technology and management to the country’s ailing agricultural sector. On the one hand, Georgia’s extremely liberal approach was a boon for investment by global food industry giants such as Ferrero (4,000ha hazelnut plantation in Samegrelo) and Hipps (growing of organic apple and production of aroma and apple concentrate in Shida Kartli). On the other, it catalyzed the creation of joint ventures in agricultural production and food processing wh...
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Farmers without Verve

During the last three months, the Agricultural Policy Research Center (APRC) of ISET-PI was working on a study about family farming in Georgia. Within this project, we conducted interviews with farmers and owners of agribusinesses. These interviews elicited many intriguing facets of Georgian agriculture, but one aspect I found particularly interesting was that Georgian farmers apparently have a rather negative view on agricultural jobs. In Samtskhe-Javakheti we were told the story of a middle-age unemployed man who was offered a job as a shepherd by anot...
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