The Joy In Serving “Georgian” Peach Farmers

Desmond Layne in the Republic of Georgia

In 1961, with the support of President John F. Kennedy, the U.S. Congress declared that “a principal objective of the foreign policy of the United States is the encouragement and sustained support of the people of developing countries in their efforts to acquire the knowledge and resources essential to development and to build the economic, political, and social institutions which will improve the quality of their lives” (Foreign Assistance Act). The resulting creation of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) more than 50 years ago has led to current efforts in more than 100 countries with the purpose of “furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while also extending a helping hand to people struggling to make a better life, recovering from a disaster, or striving to live in a free and democratic country. It is this caring that stands as a hallmark of the United States around the world.”

One program that is funded through USAID is the CNFA “Farmer-to-Farmer” program that “provides opportunities for U.S. farmers, agribusiness professionals, and other agriculturists to help contribute to democracy-building and the development of a market economy by sharing their expertise with aspiring entrepreneurs across the globe.” I had the great privilege of participating as a volunteer in this program during this past year in the Republic of Georgia. This small country has the Black Sea on its western border and shares borders with Turkey and Armenia to the south, Azerbaijan to the south and east, and Russia to the north. This scenically beautiful country has land area slightly smaller than my home state of South Carolina. Georgia received its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 and it is now a democratic republic with strong ties to the U.S. The population of 4.5 million people is primarily Orthodox Christian and there are historic churches and monasteries dotting the foothills of the majestic Caucasus mountains.

Georgia is known for its 8,000-year history of making wine. They also produce citrus near the Black Sea, walnuts, pome fruit, and stone fruit. Both stone fruit and winegrapes are primarily grown in the Kakheti region. As a result of conflicts with Russia (including the Five-Day War in August 2008), the Russian border has been closed to Georgian exports (wine, fruit, etc.). Russia was formerly the single largest importer of Georgian wine and fruits, so the border closure has resulted in oversupply, poor prices to producers, and the need to increase exports to other neighboring countries.

Looking For Advice

My time in Georgia involved teaching a week-long, intensive “Peach Growing 101” course, and visiting new and established production orchards, markets, and storage facilities. I diagnosed orchard management and production problems and offered advice and solutions. I demonstrated pruning and thinning techniques and discussed fruit maturity assessment and postharvest management issues. In total, during two trips, I spent four weeks both educating and learning from my warm Georgian friends.

Interestingly, from a practical farming perspective, many of the issues and problems they experience are similar to those of the growers here in the U.S. However, unlike the U.S., with our land grant universities and Cooperative Extension Service, they have no state-funded experts to come and advise them or
educate them. Further, their ability to extend the shelflife of fruit through refrigeration (both for storage and transport) is historically lacking. However, I did visit a brand new, state-of-the-art cold storage facility in Tbilisi, the capital city, which has the capacity to handle 7,000 tons of meat, fruit, and vegetables. This is the largest such facility in the country and it should be a terrific new resource for Georgian growers.

The Georgian people are warm and hospitable. The country is beautiful, the cuisine is delicious, and the hospitality is memorable. Why not visit there one day and even go on one of their famous wine tours?

Click here to watch a video in which Layne is interviewed by David Birkadze, who hosts the national, weekly “Our Farm” television program each week in the Republic of Georgia.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Stone Fruit Stories

Stone Fruit‘Ladderless’ Peach, Nectarine Orchards Explored
August 15, 2014
University of California researchers explore the concept of so-called pedestrian orchards. Read More
Stone FruitSome South Carolina Peach Growers Report Small, Later Crop
August 5, 2014
Late spring freeze limits some growers’ crops. Read More
Stone FruitWashington Stone Fruit Crops Hit The Sweet Spot
August 4, 2014
Washington State Fruit Commission anticipates an extra sweet season for peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums thanks to ideal early summer climate conditions. Read More
FruitsWestern U.S. Prepares For Plum Pox
July 24, 2014
Stone fruit orchards in California’s central valleys are especially vulnerable. Read More
Stone FruitWhy You Should Summer Prune Peach Trees
July 18, 2014
Penn State University researcher delves into the science and motivation to perform this task in warm weather. Read More
FruitsTips To Manage Two-Spotted Spider Mites In Cherries
July 18, 2014
Michigan State University researchers suggest scouting pointers and application timings. Read More
Apples & PearsFor GenNext Tree Fruit Growers, Social Media Is A Necessity
July 14, 2014
Next generation offers tips, pointers to increase traffic on your social media accounts. Read More

The Latest

Apples & PearsThey’re Back! 2014 Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Populat…
September 2, 2014
Pressure building as traps filling up with pest by the hundreds. Read More
Stone Fruit‘Ladderless’ Peach, Nectarine Orchards Explored
August 15, 2014
University of California researchers explore the concept of so-called pedestrian orchards. Read More
Stone FruitSome South Carolina Peach Growers Report Small, Later C…
August 5, 2014
Late spring freeze limits some growers’ crops. Read More
Stone FruitWashington Stone Fruit Crops Hit The Sweet Spot
August 4, 2014
Washington State Fruit Commission anticipates an extra sweet season for peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums thanks to ideal early summer climate conditions. Read More
Food SafetyWawona Packing Expands Recall Of Stone Fruit
August 4, 2014
Dates extended to July 17 added as precaution of possible listeria contamination of packed peaches, plums, nectarines, and plots. Read More
FruitsWestern U.S. Prepares For Plum Pox
July 24, 2014
Stone fruit orchards in California’s central valleys are especially vulnerable. Read More
Food SafetyPacking Company Recalls Stone Fruit For Possible Lister…
July 22, 2014
Peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots packed in June and July tested positive during internal testing at Wawona Packing Company. Read More
Stone FruitWhy You Should Summer Prune Peach Trees
July 18, 2014
Penn State University researcher delves into the science and motivation to perform this task in warm weather. Read More
FruitsTips To Manage Two-Spotted Spider Mites In Cherries
July 18, 2014
Michigan State University researchers suggest scouting pointers and application timings. Read More
Apples & PearsFor GenNext Tree Fruit Growers, Social Media Is A Neces…
July 14, 2014
Next generation offers tips, pointers to increase traffic on your social media accounts. Read More
FruitsPortable Precooler System Cools Cherries In Hour
July 2, 2014
Recent tests show equipment minimizes water loss and increases efficiencies in packing house. Read More
EquipmentThe Evolution of Mechanical Blossom Thinning in Peaches
June 27, 2014
Although the change will be gradual, these new devices will have a profound effect on how peaches are grown. Read More
FruitsPennsylvania Tart, Sweet Cherry Crop Will Be Light This…
June 24, 2014
Cold snap in spring to blame for low cropping and yields this growing season. Read More
BerriesMidwest Growers Still Grappling With After-Effects Of C…
June 17, 2014
Growers note low cropping of peaches, berries, and some apple varieties. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Grower Launches New Website
June 10, 2014
SunWest Fruit Company adds useful resources for retailers. Read More
FruitsTips To Identify Bacterial Diseases On Stone Fruit [Sli…
June 9, 2014
Use these pointers to see if your trees are suffering from bacterial spot and bacterial canker and how to manage these diseases. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Dried Plum Crop Forecast Up 12%
June 3, 2014
Crop expected to be larger even though dried plum trees were pulled after the 2013 harvest, reducing acreage by 2% for the 2014 season. Read More
FruitsStone Fruit: Avoiding Cherry Fruit Cracking Is A Balanc…
May 2, 2014
Gregory Lang of Michigan State University explores the causes of cherry fruit cracking and how to prevent prolonged exposure to water. Read More