Private sector and human-resource development in Georgia

Mitarbi Mineral Water. The Mitarbi source is located near the Borjomi resort and is surrounded by picturesque mountains in an unspoilt and unpolluted environment. The debit of the water constitutes 40.000 M per year.

Mitarbi was bottled and very successfully marketed during Soviet times throughout the USSR and in some foreign countries. Success to the waters came due to their taste and curative features. These are colorless, odorless, fully transparent waters with a mild taste.

Mitarbi is prescribed in cases of chronic gastric diseases, stomach and duodena ulcer in remission, chronic hepatitis, chronic cholecystitis, chronic pancreatic disease, and diabetes.

Production and sales of Mitarbi reached its peak in the late eighties, particularly annual sales volume of Mitarbi then totaled 19 million bottles. After the collapse of the USSR, due to severe political and economic circumstances bottling of water was temporarily seized.

At present the CARTU Group is the only company which has the ordinary type of bottling license (which is not exclusive). The volume of output is low due to promotional and sale problems. Accordingly, a newcomer with better experience and knowledge of the potential markets for mineral waters might find itself in a more advantageous position than CARTU.

Nabeglavi Mineral Water. The Nabeglavi resort is located in the Chokhatauri district, 35 km south of the district center and 50 km from the railway station of Samtredia, in the valley of the Gubazeuli river (a tributary of the Supsa river) at the foothills of the Meskheti ridge and 470-490 m above sea level. The resort is protected on the south by mountains covered with mixed woods (oak, beech, hornbeam, fir, and pine).

The major natural curative factors are mineral waters, which in terms of their chemical composition fall into the category of acidulous hydrocarbonated sodium waters with a salination of 7.5-8.0 g/l. They also contain solicic acid, bromine and other biologically active substances. Mineral waters are used for medicinal drinking and balneologic procedures.

The company “Ckali Margebeli” (Healthy Water) obtained a license for use of the above mentioned water.

The company uses PET type plastic bottles (1 L, 1.5-L capacity) and green colored glass bottles (1 L). Presently the company is having problems with the promotion and sale of the product, accordingly it is not working at its full capacity and is looking for a foreign partner with professional knowledge and expertise in the field of mineral waters.

Zvare Mineral Water. The Zvare resort is located in the Orjonikidze district, on the western slope of the Likhi Ridge (connecting the lesser and great Caucasus mountains), 600-700 m above sea level, in the valley of the Zvarula-River, 4 km away from the railway station of Moliti. The nearby mountainsides are mainly covered with leaf-bearing woods (oak, beech, hornbeam and other species).

Mineral water from Zvare belongs to the class of acidulous, chloridehydrocarbonate, calcium-sodium waters with a mineralization of 5-6 g/l. The daily yield of springs is up to 20,000 litres.

Water is considered beneficial for its health properties, it was traditionally used as a refreshing beverage and, at the same time recommended for prophylactics of intestine diseases and healing of metabolism disorders.

The company ZVARE Ltd. obtained an exclusive license on Zvare water production (its license for abstraction and use is valid until 2009).

Presently the company does not operate. It is looking for a foreign partner, who would help it to update the available facilities, conduct hydro-geological and other professional studies, construction works, and purchase of transport facilities.

The Georgian law dealing with all aspects of abstraction, development, exploitation of natural reserves (water) is enacted. Water regulations are Western oriented and cover the labeling, packaging and content of bottled water. The only possible change in regulations could be connected to inevitable transition towards international standards (ISO). In the first place, changes are expected in the field of assessment and quality control of water where the former Soviet State Standards (GOST) are still binding.

The present situation of the water market in Georgia and possibilities for development of the water business (due to its unique properties; significant intangible assets, experience of water production, infrastructure and low cost base), and the general situation of the international water market and other significant aspects leads one to predict the possibility of the successful operation of a newcomer in the form of a strong foreign company.


Nuts. The hazelnuts of Mediterranean origin have been well known in Georgia since ancient times.  Scientists conclude that this species of thick hazelnuts originates from the Caucasus. Since the mid-1990s farmers started a mass planting of hazelnuts in Western Georgia, particularly in the Black Sea coastal region and in Eastern Georgia in the region of Kakheti. It should be mentioned that since 1998 Georgian nuts have become one of the country’s major export products.

One of the advantages of Georgia’s agricultural sector is the high percentage of produce that is organic in nature. The country has not been using fertilizers and pesticides for some 10 years. Now the country is preparing a certification process whereby all farmers producing organic food will have their farms approved and certified as organic. This is expected to generate new interest in Georgia’s agricultural sector, particularly from markets in the West where demand for organic food is increasing far beyond supply.

Georgian Tea. Georgia is a northerly tea growing country with a relatively shorter growing season than other tea producing nations. Tea is grown in West Georgia in Guria, Samegrelo, Ajara, and Imereti Regions.  According to official statistics for 2001[20][2], these regions possess slightly more than one-quarter of the country’s total 564,518 hectares of agricultural land.

At independence in 1991, the country had 64,500 hectares of state-owned tea plantations.  Civil war, decline in demand from former markets in the FSU and the loss of state financing have caused much of the area formerly planted to tea to be abandoned. As of January 2002, 37,296 hectares of agriculture land were planted to tea. Tea plantations now occupy 65 percent of Guria’s total agricultural land, 27 percent of Samegrelo’s total agricultural land, 58 percent of Ajara’s total agricultural land and 6 percent of Imereti’s total agricultural land (Table 1). Following the abolition of collective agriculture, land under tea plantations has mostly been privatized in Guria, while in Samegrelo, Ajara, and Imereti most of the tea plantations have been leased out.

Tea leaf production data in the early 1990s is extremely unreliable and so not reported here.  It is clear that production levels have fallen greatly from those of the late 1980s.  Production has generally continued to drift downward since the mid-1990s (Tables 2-3, Figures 1-2).

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, as of January 1, 2001 there were 146 tea processing enterprises in Georgia (including Abkhazeti) with a total annual capacity of 722,800 tons. There were 50 tea factories in Samegrelo, 30 in Guria, 16 in Imereti, and 18 in Ajara. Forty-six of the 50 enterprises in Samegrelo had been privatized, while 30, 11 and 1 enterprises had been privatized in Guria, Imereti, and Ajara, respectively. These enterprises mostly use worn-out, obsolete equipment and are in poor financial condition.  Some of these enterprises are reported to have vertically integrated operations, while others operate on a contractual basis with tea growers. As might be expected, almost all tea grown appears to be sold to the factories so that the processing trends follow those of production (Table 4, Figure 3).  The nature of tea also means that the producers are much more dependent on the processors than are, say, owners of vineyards.  Homemade wine is a reasonable and widely practiced option for primary producers; homemade tea is not.

During 1994-2001 Georgia was a net exporter of tea, although it also was a substantial importer and the balance of trade appears to be turning against Georgia (Table 5, Figure 4). In the early and mid 1990s the major importers of Georgian tea were in the FSU, but since 1997 geographic coverage has widened as processors developed new markets. Exports of Georgia tea to US, Germany, and Poland show an increase (Table 6).

Tea remains an important cash crop among rural households in most of West Georgia. The share of households in total tealeaf production in 1999 was 43 percent, in 2000, 34 percent, and 93 percent in 2001 (Table 7).

Table 1. Land under Tea Plantations, 2001



Agricultural Land, ha

Total Area under
Tea Plantations,


Area of Tea
Damaged, ha

Area of Usable


Percent of Plantations
Damaged, %

Share of the
Region in total agricultural land of Georgia

Area of Land
under Tea as Percent of  Total Agricultural Land in Region


Regional Total









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