Agriculture is Georgia’s lifeblood. Fifty-three percent of the country’s working population is engaged in agriculture, many working on small plots of one hectare or less. The family farm is the backbone of Georgia’s rich rural culture. But from a financial perspective, it’s far from a sure thing. The agriculture sector employs more than half of Georgia’s workforce but accounts for only 10 percent of GDP. Many farmers earn little or no cash income. When natural disaster strikes and crops fail, rural families have little to fall back on.
The fragility of that life became obvious in August 2015, when a storm destroyed roughly 2,300 hectares of land in Kakheti. Hail, rain, and wind whipped across the landscape for 25 minutes. During that time, numerous homes and large numbers of livestock and crops were destroyed. In the Akhmeta region, the entire grape harvest was destroyed by a mudslide brought on by the storm.