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
(Photo credit: www.fruitadvisor.info)
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
No Peach Crop Likely This Year In Several New England States
The sudden, hard freeze that followed the warm winter means Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut growers are seeing near total losses. Read More
Photo 5: Branch collars at the base of intact limbs (lower right) and pruned limb area with a sprout (center). (Photo credit: Bill Shane)
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
How To Avoid Pitfalls In Peach Tree Training
Decisions made about training early in the orchard can impact your tree’s survival and ultimate decline. Read More
Florida peach planting with a citrus grove in the backdrop
Stone Fruit
April 13, 2016
Fleshing Out The State Of The Florida Peach
Growers are fine-tuning production of fledgling crop. Read More
Gisela rootstock growing in the greenhouse. (Photo credit: Win Cowgill)
Stone Fruit
April 12, 2016
Biotechnology Company Partners With Grower To Develop New Cherry Varieties
Phytelligence collaborates with Washington’s Tip Top Orchards to create novel, high value, sweet cherry varieties. Read More
Titan Farms packing line
Stone Fruit
March 30, 2016
Florida, South Carolina Peach Growers Team Up For Extended Season
Partnership will provide supplies from April through September. Read More
Tart cherries in a 4 -year-old Montmorency traditionally grown block fall on the catch leaves of the Oxbo 9000 used at Wright Orchard near Belding, MI, in 2009. (Photo credits: Ron Perry, MSU)
Harvesting
March 29, 2016
Growers Could See Early Returns On Investment With New Harvesting Techniques
Research team in Michigan examines the use of berry harvester as gentler and more economical way to harvest tart cherries. Read More
bing sweet cherry
Nuts
March 4, 2016
New Miticide Registered For Almonds, Cherries
Gowan releases Magister SC for control of mites and powdery mildew in cherries. Read More
The Latest
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
Harvesting
March 29, 2016
Growers Could See Early Returns On Inves…
Research team in Michigan examines the use of berry harvester as gentler and more economical way to harvest tart cherries. Read More
Nuts
March 4, 2016
New Miticide Registered For Almonds, Che…
Gowan releases Magister SC for control of mites and powdery mildew in cherries. Read More
Grapes
February 16, 2016
Northeast, Finger Lakes Hit With Arctic …
Temperatures dip below last year’s record cold. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 9, 2016
State Of The Fruit Industry 2016 [VIDEO]
According to an national poll of fruit growers, fruit industry suppliers, and researchers, the market is poised for growth in Read More
Citrus
February 4, 2016
Can Olive Oil Grease Skids For Florida’s…
Researchers, interested growers help launch new industry. Read More
Farm Marketing
February 3, 2016
Florida Peach Marketing Order Fails
Growers don’t meet 65% approval needed for passage. Read More
Stone Fruit
January 28, 2016
A Great Tasting Peach Is A Complicated E…
There are many factors to get right in order to deliver a delicious peach. Read More
Stone Fruit
January 22, 2016
New Study Will Focus On Food Safety In S…
Grants awarded to California State University, Fresno for sanitizing research and consumer education. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application A…
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
Stone Fruit
January 19, 2016
Bill Shane Named Interim Coordinator Of …
Shane to start post on April 1. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]