Aiming to contextualize the challenges and opportunities faced by Georgian trout farmers, the ISET Policy Institute, in cooperation with CARE international and the Georgian Farmers Association (GFA) organized a trout sector stakeholders’ forum in Kutaisi on December 4th, 2015. The forum focused on the industry’s dynamics regarding input suppliers, farmers, cooperatives, market intermediaries, consumers, and exporters with the overall goals of improving productivity in the sector, connecting farmers with new business opportunities (by product and market diversification), exploring export markets, and developing and managing the Georgian trout sector.
Attending the forum were representatives of international and domestic agricultural organizations, the Ministry of Agriculture’s regional information and consulting centers, local government officials, and several stakeholders from the private sector.
Nino Zambakhidze of GFA opened the forum with a discussion regarding the sector’s importance in Georgia. Lasha Lanchava from ISET-PI presented facts and figures about the sector and introduced the goals and structure of the forum. According to the latest data from the Market Price Information System – a data collection system developed by the EU’s ENPARD − the average retail price for trout was 11 GEL per kilogram in Georgia this year. The highest retail price was observed in Imereti (12.1 GEL per kilogram) and the cheapest trout was available in Shida Kartli (for 9.8 GEL per kilogram). According to the September 2015 data from the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat), there was a substantial increase in the value of trout imports (to 1.059 million USD from 0.619 million USD in 2014) and export (to 0.487 million USD from 0.006 million USD in 2014). The top export destination for Georgian trout is Russia. The top trout importing countries are Norway, Chile, Denmark, and Turkey. However, the increase in exports has been caused by re-exporting Scandinavian trout to Russia and not by increasing the export of local production. There are a number of actors involved in the sector including trout feed suppliers/importers, suppliers of fry, roe, and veterinary care, small, medium, and large scale trout farmers, 8 trout cooperatives, retail sellers, and exporters.
After invited forum speakers, Gocha Tsofurashvili (Deputy Minister of Agriculture), Giorgi Misheladze (Head of Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency), Archil Fartsvania (Fishermen Associaton of Georgia and MoA representative), ManuChar Tsetskhladze (Senior Veterinarian from GeoVet) delivered their remarks, introduced various challenges the Georgian trout sector faces currently and their vision to tackle these challenges. Presentations were followed by a Q&A session during which participants, including trout-producing farmers and cooperatives, had a chance to pose particular problems they face and hear advice from the invited speakers. Closing remarks were given by Silvia Sanjuan, Giorgi Glonti (both CARE International in the Caucasus), and Eric Livny (ISET Policy Institute).