|Illustration GRASS FactCheck|
FactCheck [part of a non-governmental organization Georgia’s Reforms Associates - HN] took interest in the accuracy of the Prime Minister’s statement. We contacted the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia and requested statistics concerning Georgia’s vineyards, both previously existing as well as those planted in the past two years. According to the Ministry, the last agricultural census in the country was held in 2004. According to this census, a total of 37,419 hectares of vineyards were recorded in Georgia.
Area of Vineyards by Regions in 2014 (hectares)
Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti
The National Wine Agency started to implement the vineyard cadastre programme in 2014. The cadastral survey of the Racha-Lechkhumi region was conducted at the first stage. An analysis of the survey found that a total of 572.3 hectares of vineyards are situated in Racha as of today which are represented in the form of 5,510 plots, mainly belonging to private farmers. The majority of the vineyards are situated in the Ambrolauri Municipality. There are currently 233 hectares of vineyards situated in Lechkhumi (Tsageri Municipality) as of today and, similar to Racha, these vineyards usually belong to private farmers. Similar cadastral work will be conducted in Kakheti in 2015. According to the Agency’s information, a tender has already been announced for the cadastral survey of the Kvareli Municipality vineyards.
According to the National Wine Agency, a total of 5,000 hectares of vineyards were planted in Georgia in 2013 and 2014. Of this, about 4,700 hectares were planted in Kakheti, 50 hectares in Racha and 250 hectares in Shida Kartli, Imereti, Guria and Samegrelo combined. According to the Agency’s explanation, the calculations between the censuses are approximate and a variety of sources were used for them: information of the municipalities and the regional agricultural offices, the number of produced seedlings, the information of different cellars and winegrowers about planting the vineyards and so on. The total area of planted vineyards is calculated by summarising this information.
Internet research also produced some information confirming the planting of vineyards over the past two years. According to these sources, vineyards were planted in Racha-Lechkhumi (45 hectares in Racha and 10 hectares in Tsageri), the Kvareli Municipality (380 hectares of Saperavi, 162 hectares of Rkatsiteli and 10 hectares of Kakhetian Green [Mtsvane Kakhuri - HN]) and other municipalities of Kakheti as well.
In his statement the Prime Minister also elaborated upon the amount of grapes bought from farmers and the income they received from this. According to the statistics of the National Wine Agency, a total of 217,678 tonnes of grapes were processed in 2013 and 2014 (93,072 tonnes in 2013 and 124,606 tonnes in 2014) and the revenues from their sales amounted to GEL 289,091,593 (GEL 175,341,271 in 2013 and GEL 113,750,322 in 2014) which coincides with the numbers stated by Mr Garibashvili.
FactCheck concludes that Irakli Garibashvili’s statement: “More than 4,000 hectares of vineyards have been planted over the past two years,” is true.