Georgia consumes more than one million US dollars-worth of imported pomegranates every season. These fruits are produced locally, some in large-scale orchards. However, currently they are mainly imported from Turkey and Azerbaijan. Wild crops of pomegranate trees are widespread throughout Georgia, but the optimal climatic conditions for its cultivation are in the Kakheti, Dedoplistskaro, and Sighnaghi municipalities.
Imports, as well as local harvesting, began in late September. Today, pomegranates are sold at almost every grocery store and supermarket in Tbilisi.
Eastfruit contacted one of the largest pomegranate orchards in Georgia to discuss the production process. Khornabuji Ltd owns 35 hectares of pomegranate orchards in the Sighnaghi municipality of the Kakheti region. Fifteen hectares were planted 4 years ago and the remaining twenty hectares 2 years ago. As it takes 6 to 7 years for pomegranate trees to reach their full harvest capacity, these orchards are still young and the yield is small. The owner decided to cultivate pomegranate orchards for industrial-level production because of the favorable climatic conditions in their region.
When the orchard reaped its first harvest, they discovered that they would have to sell more pomegranates to processing companies than expected. The company learned from their experience when expanding the orchard two years ago. This time, they planted seedlings of the Turkish pomegranate variety Hicaz. According to the director of the company Avtandil Jibladze, the new variety has a better appearance and can be stored for a longer period.
According to Jibladze, other pomegranate growers have also appeared in the region and there is heightened interest in this fruit. Khornabuji is often contacted for guidance on proper seedling selection and orchard maintenance procedures. Jibladze thinks that if pomegranate production in the country increases, Georgia should raise awareness at the local and export markets, too. Only then will Georgia be able to compete with Turkish and Azerbaijani pomegranates already established on the market.