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US to donating Wheat to Georgia
USDA, April 29, 2004
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman and Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania today signed a donation agreement for 50,000 metric tons of U.S. hard red winter wheat. Georgia, an independent country since 1991, borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia.

"The U.S. wheat will help alleviate current shortages in Georgia, while also supporting agricultural development there," Veneman said. "Our two countries have a strong relationship, and food assistance is part of ongoing U.S. support for the government of Georgia and its commitment to policies promoting economic freedom and private enterprise."

Wheat production in Georgia this year is estimated at about 225,000 metric tons, while the country’s total demand is about three times that level. Smaller crops in neighboring countries have resulted in higher prices and made it more difficult for Georgia to meet its domestic needs through commercial imports. Georgia is a net wheat importer.

The U.S. donation is valued at an estimated $12 million, including freight. The wheat is expected to depart U.S. ports in early summer.

In Georgia, the wheat will be sold for use by flour mills, bakeries and other firms to increase local supplies of bread and other wheat-based products. Proceeds from the wheat sales will be used by the government of Georgia to promote agricultural and rural development, and to help alleviate poverty. Funds may support projects to develop new free market businesses in processing and distribution, privatize former state-owned enterprises, improve agricultural extension and micro-credit services, support collaborative research, stimulate employment, and improve rural infrastructure.

The signing of the agreement took place during a meeting between Veneman and Zhavania in which they discussed various agricultural issues. In February, Veneman met with the new Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili at Blair House during a state visit.

The donation will be made under USDA’s Food for Progress program, administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service. The Food for Progress program provides for USDA donations of agricultural commodities to developing countries to encourage economic or agricultural reforms that foster free enterprise.
MGR Archive 30.4.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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