The Kvitsiani family from the mountainous region has been looking for opportunities in recent years to develop agrotourism and organic strawberry production in Upper Svaneti. With the support of the EU, Sweden and Austria, this has now become a reality.
Becho village in Zemo Svaneti, a beautiful mountainous landscape lying at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level, one of the small settlements with 159 people residents, including Grigol and Akaki Kvitsiani, who are now already expecting the second harvest of organic strawberries from their greenhouse.
Difficult climatic conditions, issues caused by the limited of public transport, difficult social and economic environment and other various obstacles seem to obscure the prospects for the future plans made in the high mountains. Nonetheless, there is nothing more real than successfully implemented business activities, the joy of the first harvest generated as a result of your own labor and the unforgettable taste of that first harvest.
"In 2019 we learned about the GRETA project launched with the co-financing from the European Union, Sweden and Austria for the first time. As soon as this opportunity arose, the whole family, I, my brother, his wife and parents, immediately decided that we wouldn’t let this chance pass us by and that we had to do our best in order to realize our plans”. - Akaki Kvitsiani says.
Today in Becho, adventure tourism is at a naturally advanced stage, however, there are quite big obstacles in the agriculture sector and under the current conditions, the local communities can not offer a sufficient number of locally produced and ecologically clean products to visitors. Besides, organic agriculture and its specific aspects are completely new for both the region and, one could say, for the whole country too.
At a first glance, the GRETA project’s idea might have seemed an ambitious one - to launch entirely new, organic farming initiatives in the face of such obstacles. Nevertheless, the region has ideal natural conditions for these activities and an ambitious proposal has gradually turned into a real and successful business over time.
All this would not have been possible without Grigol and Akaki Kvitsiani’s great desire to launch the business, learn new things, and to scrupulously follow the recommendations received. This led to the establishment of one of the first demonstration plots and construction of the greenhouse as well as the creation of the organic strawberry production opportunities for the local population with the involvement of Grigol and Akaki in Becho with the co-financing from the European Union, Sweden, and Austria.
The agro-tourism and greenhouse business called “Kesane Strawberry” was born here.
When launching organic agriculture activities, it is very important to follow the rules so that the product is recognized as an organic product in accordance with international standards. Another obstacle identified was the lack of sectoral knowledge and experience in the region, although this was not considered an obstacle from the project’s perspective, since, as part of the assistance, permanent consultations of a field expert were provided and this process is still ongoing. Consequently, the first harvest of organic strawberries from a 150 square meter area amounted to 94 kilograms.
"Literally the whole village was waiting for the first harvest and as soon as the harvesting process was done, the whole batch of Kesane strawberries was sold in local as well as neighboring region’s food establishments. This has convinced our family that the idea was right and now we are more committed to our work and want to reach out to people living in our mountainous region, who are full of expectations like us, that the idea, discovered opportunity, action, and the hard work will lead to real results."- says Akaki.
Agritourism and Greenhouse business - "Kesane Strawberry" today still continues to apply the knowledge shared by experts in practice and gradually develops the production of organic strawberries in Becho. The ultimate goal of this process is to lay the groundwork for the continuous organic agriculture activities in Upper Svaneti based on the concrete examples and to reap the economic benefits that are the basis for increasing the well-being and economic stability of residents of mountainous regions.
The GRETA project | “Green Economy: Sustainable Mountain Tourism and Organic Agriculture” is co-financed by the European Union, Austria, and Sweden, and is implemented in Georgia by the Austrian Development Agency. The project aims to facilitate the improvement of the business environment and increase opportunities for generating additional revenues in two such important sectors of the Georgian economy mountain tourism and organic agriculture. Small and medium entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to receive the necessary financial assistance to improve their production and services, discover new market opportunities and through locally produced high-quality products, compete with imports in the future. The project involves the regions of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi, and Kvemo Svaneti as well as Upper Imereti; entrepreneurs from the municipalities of Mestia, Lentekhi, Tsageri, Oni, Ambrolauri, Sachkhere, Chiatura and Tkibuli are involved in the project. Find out more information about the GRETA project: www.gretaproject.ge
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