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Protest of the hailed farmers


Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli

On May 27, the victims of the natural disaster held protest demonstration in front of the administrative building of the Gori Municipality City Hall and requested to examine and compensate their loss.

The hail of May 25 completely destroyed the fruit and vegetable gardens in about 20 villages of Gori municipality. The protesters said they had taken agricultural loans, which they had to cover with their income from the harvest. However, the hail destroyed almost 100% of their fruit gardens and consequently they will not be able to cover the loans; even more, they are left without any income. 

“In Kere village, almost 100% of the harvest is destroyed. I do not know what we shall do. We urge the government to help us. The hail spoiled grape, apples and everything,” one of the protesters said. 

The Gori Municipality Mayor met the protesters. He said the local budget cannot reimburse their loss.

“We are waiting for the Minister of Agriculture and will decide future steps during the meeting with him,” Konstantine Tavzarashvili said.

His statement annoyed the protesters gathered in front of the administrative building of the municipality city hall; they said the local government does not adequately respond to their problems. 

“We cannot wait for him. If you cannot bring the minister here, we will go and block the central highway; with it we will accelerate his visit,” the protesters told the mayor and walked to the central highway. They tried to block the motorway but law enforcement officers did not allow them. 

The Shida Kartli regional governor Giorgi Khojevanishvili and the Gori municipality mayor Konstantine Tavzarashvili arrived at the new site of protest. Later the Minister of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili joined them, who asked the victims to move to the hall of the Gori Culture Center to continue discussion in peaceful environment; the protesters agreed. 

“The insurance is the only mechanism to minimize similar risks,” the Minister said and it caused protest of the farmers as most part of them had not insured the harvest. Many of them left the meeting after the minister started speaking about the agro-insurance.

“Does not the state have reserve fund? When farmers have 100% of their harvest lost, people shall get aid from the reserve fund,” one of the victims said, who left the meeting in protest. Many others followed him but the Minister continued speaking with the rest 50 farmers, who remained in the hall. He asked the regional governor to meet the managers of the local branch offices of the banks, which issue agro-credits and to negotiate postponing of the credits for the victimized farmers. 

“During the meeting of the Association, we told all banks to take the hardship of the farmers into consideration in case of similar natural disasters; however, we will hold more meetings with the banks to assist the people to postpone the agro-credits. The element of the agro-insurance is very important to encourage people to get involved in this program, where the State will cover 70% of their loss,” the Minister of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili said. 

Majority of the natural disaster victims did not have their gardens insured. They call on the government to compensate their loss from the reserve funds; otherwise they will resume protest. Gori municipality majoritarian MP Temur Khubuluri also attended the meeting of the farmers with the government representatives. He said he personally saw the loss of the farmers in several villages and believes the Government of Georgia shall find solution to similar situation and assist people.  

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