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
a trio of peaches
Stone Fruit
July 10, 2016
American Farm Bureau Video Highlights Labor Struggle During Peach Harvest
Growers say administrative delays have caused workers to arrive days or weeks late. Read More
(Photo credit: Nancy Bosold, Horticulture Educator, Penn State Extension)
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In Pennsylvania
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons
Stone Fruit
June 30, 2016
Large Tart Cherry Crop Expected In Michigan
Nikki Rothwell, Center Coordinator for the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center in Traverse City, MI, tells UpNorthLive.com, the tart cherry crop Read More
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Stone Fruit
June 10, 2016
Managing Peach Blocks When You Have No Crop
Many peach orchards in the Northeast were stung by a bitter cold. Read More
Cherry Harvest
Stone Fruit
June 6, 2016
Northwest Cherry Crop Estimates Down This Year
‘Bing’ growers experiencing low crop set. Read More
Bagging the fruit might be the only way to ensure growing quality organic peaches in South Carolina. (Photo credit: Juan Carlos Melgar, Clemson University)
Organic
June 1, 2016
Organic Peach-Bagging Project Shows Great Promise
Clemson University research may allow growers in the Southeast to prevent diseases related to heat and humidity. Read More
First-year impact of Prunus replant disease at the Firebaugh replant trial; stunted trees in the foreground row were planted in plot of non-fumigated replant soil. (Photo credit: University of California Agriculture)
Disease Control
June 1, 2016
Fumigation, Proper Rootstocks Key To Controlling Replant Disease
Much remains mysterious about Prunus Replant Disease (PRD) and exactly how it operates to suppress growth of young replanted almond Read More
The Latest
Pest Control
August 21, 2016
Spotted Wing Drosophila: For Michigan, …
Why the pest can be so much more destructive for Eastern cherry growers might be due to what they’re not farming. Read More
Stone Fruit
August 3, 2016
Loans Available For Stone Fruit Growers …
Western Massachusetts growers who experienced tree loss or damage may be eligible for farm loans. Read More
Stone Fruit
July 26, 2016
Take A Closer Look At The Tall Spindle A…
One of the more traditional three-dimensional canopies, Tall Spindle Axe data shows consistent early and sustained yields. Read More
Stone Fruit
July 10, 2016
American Farm Bureau Video Highlights La…
Growers say administrative delays have caused workers to arrive days or weeks late. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In…
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Stone Fruit
June 30, 2016
Large Tart Cherry Crop Expected In Michi…
Nikki Rothwell, Center Coordinator for the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center in Traverse City, MI, tells UpNorthLive.com, the tart cherry crop Read More
Stone Fruit
June 10, 2016
Managing Peach Blocks When You Have No C…
Many peach orchards in the Northeast were stung by a bitter cold. Read More
Stone Fruit
June 6, 2016
Northwest Cherry Crop Estimates Down Thi…
‘Bing’ growers experiencing low crop set. Read More
Organic
June 1, 2016
Organic Peach-Bagging Project Shows Grea…
Clemson University research may allow growers in the Southeast to prevent diseases related to heat and humidity. Read More
Disease Control
June 1, 2016
Fumigation, Proper Rootstocks Key To Con…
Much remains mysterious about Prunus Replant Disease (PRD) and exactly how it operates to suppress growth of young replanted almond Read More
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before…
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
Stone Fruit
May 25, 2016
Researchers Study Why Cherry Cracking Af…
German researchers studied how water uptake and fruit skin determined a cultivar’s susceptibility to cherry cracking. Read More
Stone Fruit
May 9, 2016
Northwest Cherries Predict Strong Crop
Preliminary figures indicate a crop larger than 2015, and potential early harvest. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
No Peach Crop Likely This Year In Severa…
The sudden, hard freeze that followed the warm winter means Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut growers are seeing near total losses. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
How To Avoid Pitfalls In Peach Tree Trai…
Decisions made about training early in the orchard can impact your tree’s survival and ultimate decline. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 13, 2016
Fleshing Out The State Of The Florida Pe…
Growers are fine-tuning production of fledgling crop. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 12, 2016
Biotechnology Company Partners With Grow…
Phytelligence collaborates with Washington’s Tip Top Orchards to create novel, high value, sweet cherry varieties. Read More
Stone Fruit
March 30, 2016
Florida, South Carolina Peach Growers Te…
Partnership will provide supplies from April through September. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]