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lurja 2015

Success Story of Blind Farmer from Adjara

Lurja 2015 is a cooperative developed as part of EU-funded program of ENPARD. The cooperative is located in the village of Ochkhamuri, Kobuleti District. Several members of the cooperative are blind persons.

Thanks to a grant, farmers in Adjara arranged strawberry and raspberry plantations and picked the first harvest in 2016. The financial support implied a transmission of plant seedlings, installation of newest dripping technologies and other necessary technical equipment

In his interview with eugeorgia.info, Aleksandre Tsevelidze, one of the founders of Lurja 2015, talks about the cooperative plans and potential of berry cultures in Adjara.

-Why have you decided to arrange berry plantations?

– I am a veterinary doctor, by profession, from Gori. I had comprehensive information about taste characteristics and importance of berry fruits for human health. This was one of the reasons why I have decided to arrange berry plantations. At this stage, our cooperative owns 3 hectare land plot with strawberry and raspberry plantations.

Besides taste characteristics, berry fruit are used also for healing purposes and it is an in-demand product on both domestic and international markets. It is grows quickly and gives crops in the second year. We would have to wait 4-5 years in case of mandarin and nuts, but in this case I picked the harvest in a year. Therefore, berry plants are more profitable.

-We know that blueberry is in special demand. 

-Naturally, we know about this. One of the members of our cooperative arranged blueberry plantation on 3 000 square meter land plot. Now we are conducting an experiment and we are interested to arrange plantation of domestic forest black berry.

-Do you think about production of bio products?

-We do not use either pesticides or herbicides. At this stage, we cannot say that we produce bio product, but we have similar plans to boldly say in 4 years that we have a bio farm.

– Where do you sell your products?

– Our products are sold on domestic market, but we cannot satisfy even 0.01% of real demand. There is huge demand for berry on the domestic market.

-Do you plan to enter international market? 

-Naturally, at this stage we are expanding our business and we have already bought 1 hectare land in addition for raspberry plantation. We plan to introduce our branded product on international market till 2020.

-What do you think about perspective of berry fruits in Adjara Region? 

_ I would like to note that our idea was approved in Adjara. Lurja 2015 is one of the exemplar cooperatives in the whole country. I have recently attended one of the business trainings, where everybody agreed that arranging berry plantations are far efficient for launching business activities, compared to nut and filbert, especially on small territories.

Adjara is a highland region with a high risk of fungal diseases. Therefore, berry fruits have huge potential in our region, compared to other cultures. In case of berry fruits, it is easier to defeat diseases.

-Do you have agro tourism development plans? 

– In 2016 European Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited our cooperative. I am a blind man and they handed over a personal computer to me that operates with voice signals. He liked our gardens very much and he visited our plantation the next day jointly with other foreign guests. They picked raspberry themselves, tasted and expressed their admiration. Agro tourism has much potential in Adjara Region. After branding, we will develop this direction too. Regretfully, I have negative banking history and therefore, it will be difficult for me to take a new loan, but I hope to develop agro tourism and draw tourists hanks to international assistance.