At least 100 new processing enterprises will be set up in Georgia to boost the country’s agriculture sector by the end of next year, President Saakashvili said on July 25.
He told a cabinet meeting that the development of the agro-business sector was of vital importance for the country.
PM Zurab Nogaideli explained that the plan involved selling off over 40,000 hectares of agricultural land at 20% of its market price.
The land, he said, would be sold separately in 400-hectare plots. Would-be investors will have to set up a new processing plant within the year.
Terms, he said, would be simple. Bids envisaging the creation of more employment and greater output would win, PM Nogaideli said.
He said appropriate legislation had already been drawn up, which would be submitted to Parliament for consideration.
President Saakashvili said the government expected that at least 100,000 new jobs would be created as a result of the project.
“Receiving a lot of money from the sale of land is not now the priority,” he said. “The priority is to create jobs.”
Saakashvili said an estimated GEL 600 million would be invested in the country’s agriculture sector within the next three years.
Agriculture constitutes 12% of the country’s GDP and 24% of exports, according to Economy Minister Giorgi Arveladze.
He said 108 small and medium sized agricultural processing enterprises had been set up in the country in the last few years.