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On 27 October 2014 Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, presented the public with his two-year performance report. He stated: “A total of 420 thousand hectares of land have been put under cultivation in two years. A total of 800 thousand farmers receive assistance every year. Up to GEL 300 million has been spent on this… We distributed GEL 9 million worth of seed materials free-of-charge, GEL 48 million worth of agricultural chemicals and an otherwise inventory of up to GEL 54 million. We have started the Preferential Agro-credit project with 21.4 thousand agro-credits valued at a total of GEL 492 million having been handed out since March 2013.”

FactCheck

 took interest in the Prime Minister’s statement and decided to verify its accuracy.

FactCheck has already written

about the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project and the Preferential Agro-credit project implemented in 2013.

Overall, a total of 258.2 thousand hectares of land were put under cultivation in the spring of 2013 and another 264.3 thousand hectares of land were cultivated in 2014.

In 2013, 207.3

thousand hectares of land were cultivated as a part of the activities of the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, 216.4 thousand hectares of land were put under cultivation in 2014 as a part of the project’s activities. Overall, this makes for a total of 423.7 thousand hectares of land put under cultivation during the project’s two years. Accordingly, Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement that 420 thousand hectares of land were cultivated in two years is true.

In the same two-year performance report, the Prime Minister also mentioned that 800 thousand farmers receive annual assistance from the government.

In 2013, 710 thousand beneficiaries who possessed 5 hectares of land or less were given assistance as a part of the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project. According to the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, some farmers did not receive assistance benefits because they failed to appear on the beneficiaries list. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Projects’ Management Agency composed the list of potential beneficiaries with the assistance of the country’s local self-governments. Accordingly, the number of project beneficiaries was envisaged to be approximately 800 thousand farmers according to the estimate of the government although on 27 February, several weeks into the project’s activities, the final data reported by the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that the so-called agricultural voucher cards had been distributed to a total of 627 thousand beneficiaries.

We verified the part of Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement where he says that the government spent a total of GEL 300 million to implement the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project. In line with the report of the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, GEL 195.5 million worth of assistance was distributed in 2013. As stated in the information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, a total of GEL 69.3 million was spent in 2014 within the activities of the project. Hence, a total amount of GEL 264.8 million was spent on the project over two years.

As reported in the information published on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Georgian Rural Development Fund provides partial financing for the project and contributes by means of a grant provided to the Agricultural Projects’ Management Agency. The Fund enters into a contract with the Agency and monitors the implementation of the project. The Fund also finances the Preferential Agro-credit project in its entirety. One of the major contributors to the Georgian Rural Development Fund is the Cartu Group.

As reported in the information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture in September 2013, the Georgian Rural Development Fund entered into a contract with the Cartu Fund and signed a memorandum of cooperation with the International Fund for Agricultural Development. As of 18 September 2013, the Cartu Fund had transferred GEL 192.3 million and the Georgian Rural Development Fund GEL 11 million to the aforementioned agricultural projects.

According to the report on the implementation of the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry spent a total of GEL 50 million within the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project in the first three quarters of 2014 (the project costs equalled GEL 69.3 million in total) and GEL 55.8 million within the Preferential Agro-credit project.

According to the report on the implementation of the state budget of Georgia, GEL 176 million was spent from the state budget alone in 2013 to develop agriculture. Expenditures towards the agricultural sector consisted of GEL 156.8 million in the first three quarters of 2014. The agricultural sector grew in 2013 with sector revenues increasing by GEL 157 million (by 11.3%) in comparison to last year’s data. In the first three quarters of 2014, despite the state having spent a total of GEL 227 million, growth in agriculture amounted to only GEL 14 million in contrast to the same period of the last year (by 1.3%).

In the same report the Prime Minister also talks about the distribution of seed materials, agricultural chemicals and an otherwise rural inventory. Seed materials valued at GEL 9.5 million, agricultural chemicals valued at GEL 52.4 million and other inventory valued at 61.2 million were distributed to beneficiaries as a part of the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project. These numbers differ slightly from the statistics provided by Irakli Gharibashvili (GEL 9.48 million and GEL 54 million, respectively).

In his speech the Prime Minister also spoke about the Preferential Agro-credit project. The official website of the Ministry of Agriculture states that this project was enacted on 27 March 2013 with the aim of providing farmers with cheap and accessible loans in order to develop agriculture. The project is funded by the Georgian Rural Development Fund and implemented by the Agricultural Projects’ Management Agency.

As reported in the information of the Ministry of Agriculture, loans totalling GEL 623.7 million have been given to 23.9 thousand farmers within the Preferential Agro-credit project. The Agricultural Projects’ Management Agency spent a total of GEL 4.1 million in 2013 and GEL 18.3 million in 2014 within the activities of the project.

Conclusion

In line with the information of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, a total of 423.7 thousand hectares of land were put under cultivation during the two years of implementation of the Land-Poor-Farmers Assistance Spring 2014 project. Hence, Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement that 420 thousand hectares of land were cultivated in two years is true.

According to the Prime Minister, 800 thousand farmers receive annual assistance from the government which amounts to GEL 300 million. According to the information of the Ministry of Agriculture, 710 thousand beneficiaries were assisted in 2013 and 627 thousand in 2014. A total of GEL 264.8 million was spent as a part of the project over two years.

As reported in the information of the Ministry of Agriculture, seed materials valued at GEL 9.5 million, agricultural chemicals valued at GEL 52.4 million and other inventory valued at GEL 61.2 million were distributed during the project’s two years.

The final part of Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is linked to the Preferential Agro-credit project. According to the Prime Minister, agricultural loans valued at GEL 492 million have been distributed to 21.4 thousand beneficiaries as a part of the project. As stated in the information of the Ministry of Agriculture, 23.9 thousand farmers have received loans totalling GEL 623.7 million. Accordingly, the number of beneficiaries of the project and the amount of the loans are slightly more than those mentioned by the Prime Minister.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.