2023 October-November Analysis Featured

Georgian-made anti-hail nets boost agriculture sector earnings

Not too far from Tbilisi, in the village of Breki, in the Shida Kartli region, you will find an apple orchard teeming with green and red apples, sprawled across an expansive 70 hectares of land. The orchard is owned by Gia Edilashvili, a skilled agriculturist with over a decade of experience in the field. Planted two years ago, this year marks the arrival of the first harvest when Gia receives the fruitful outcome of his hard work.

Fortunately, Gia’s orchard is now protected, thanks to anti-hail nets. Teaming up with a USAID-supported local company, Agrobade, Gia invested in locally-manufactured anti-hail nets, which shield crops from the damaging effects of hail, sun, spring freeze, and pests. USAID played a crucial role in supporting the company by providing assistance to purchase equipment and initiating production. Thanks to this support, Gia now produces higher-quality fruits for Georgians and earns a better income.

Gia Edilashvili, farmer/owner of the apple orchard.

“Apple cultivation thrives in this region, but unfortunately, we have experienced numerous cases of hail ruining our crops. As a result, we have suffered significant losses of 50% to 70% of our crops annually,” says Gia.

“When we learned about Agrobade, a local company, we were among its first customers. It proved to be a cost-effective and convenient solution compared to importing nets from other countries. The company also facilitates ongoing communication and support, ensuring the proper maintenance and effectiveness of the nets throughout the growing season,” says Gia.

Hailstorms are quite common in the Shida Kartli region and have been known to devastate large shares of crops in the area. Anti-hail nets are critical to preventing damages and significant harvest losses, but high costs of imported anti-hail nets keep many farmers in Georgia from being able to purchase them. Agrobade is the first modern enterprise in Georgia that produces anti-hail and protective nets locally, serving farmers and agricultural producers around the country. USAID’s passion to support local Georgian farmers is part of its long-term initiative to advance Georgia’s economy and make it more of a global competitor.

Photo by Dimitri Chikvaidze for USAID Georgia

“Founded in 2023, Agrobade produces both anti-hail nets and yarn. With a grant of $150,000 from USAID, we financed the purchase of net weaving and thread manufacturing machines and opened production facilities. To date, we have served approximately seven or eight farmers and our list of clients continues to grow rapidly,” says Avtandil Maisuradze, Founder and Director of Agrobade.

The locally-produced anti-hail nets offer substantial benefits to local farmers, including reduced import costs, amplified crop yields, and increased income. With USAID’s support, they have the potential to prevent 10-15 million GEL in damages to orchards from hail and other natural disasters. And as production continues to expand, it creates new job opportunities, contributing to the overall prosperity of the local community.

Agrobade staff members. Photo by Dimitri Chikvaidze for USAID Georgia

Agrobade aims to annually produce approximately one million square meters of anti-hail nets and over 600,000 mesh bags for packing and shipping produce, resulting in an annual income of $1 million.

Situated in Shida Kartli, a region neighboring the Russian-occupied territory of Georgia, most of the company’s employees are internally displaced persons as a result of the 2008 Russian invasion. Currently, the company employs 37 staff members and has ambitious plans to expand in coming years.

Apple orchard in Breki village. Photo by Dimitri Chikvaidze for USAID Georgia

“In the future, we envision the growth and development of our enterprise, including the acquisition of additional knitting and material production equipment. Our goal is to enhance our services and offer farmers additional support such as complete net installation, further improving our offerings to the agricultural community,” says Avtandil Maisuradze.

As the number of modern fruit orchards continues to grow in Georgia, companies such as Agrobade are critical to reducing risks, providing resilience in light of climate change, and most importantly, protecting the income of farmers and their families. For the upcoming season, Agrobade plans to produce nets for 300 hectares of orchards, which would result in net sales of an estimated 2.1 million GEL.