The International Potato Center (CIP) opened its representation in Georgia on 11 October.
The Tbilisi International Potato Center is to become the regional office, covering Central Asia and the Caucasus. It plans to implement innovative methods of potato growing and will introduce new potato breeds. It will also focus on providing educational and professional development possibilities to scientists, farmers and producers in the sector.
The official opening ceremony was attended by Rusudan Mdivani, Regional Leader of the International Potato Center in Central Asia and Caucasus, who introduced the Center and talked about its importance.
Michael Gerba, International Potato Center Chief Operating Officer, addressed the audience, saying potatoes, like wine, are part of Georgia’s great culture.
“I’m very glad to be in Tbilisi. Our organization will promote potato-growing not only in Georgia, but throughout the region,” he stated.
Head of the Austrian Development Agency Office in Georgia, Gerhard Shaumberger, introduced the agriculture project at the event.
“We know that Georgians are big consumers of potatoes. This Center will promote more active consumption of potatoes in the country. We will share our experience with farmers and – with our help – Georgian potatoes will be free of genetically modified organisms and will be ecologically clean,” he said, adding that the potato harvest can be doubled in Georgia next year.
Yuri Nozadze, Deputy Agriculture Minister, stated that Georgia was included in the World Database of Scientific Studies which gives the country an opportunity to have more access to recent achievements in the agriculture field.
“We will continue to bring to Georgia new promising species of potatoes from CIP,” he said.
Georgian Scientific Research Center Head, Nodar Khatiashvili said that by working with the CIP, Georgian scientists will have an opportunity to access modern technologies and new species produced elsewhere in the world.
“This process will help our farmers to grow potatoes through locally elaborated seeds instead of imported ones,” he added.
Founded in 1971, the International Potato Center is a member of the CGIAR, an International Agricultural Research Consultancy Group. The Center’s mission is to “work with partners to achieve food security, well-being, and gender equity for poor people in root and tuber farming and food systems in the developing world, through research and innovation in science, technology, and capacity strengthening.”
A memorandum of cooperation signed between the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture and the International Potato Center on 26 January 2016, led to the opening of the Center in 2017 in Tbilisi.
A five-year work plan and program has been agreed in the framework of the memorandum in order to promote the agricultural sector in Georgia.