People in Need recommended me to grow strawberries, says the successful Geogian farmer
Archil Elbakidze had to leave his native Abkhazia in 1993, when the first armed conflict between Georgians and Abkhazians started. He settled in the Georgian town of Imereti and started his life from the very beginning. He worked hard to be able to maintain his family, but despite years of experience with farming, it did not go well.
„In Abkhazia agriculture has been the main source of livelihood of my ancestors for many years. Fresh air, smell of the soil and harvesting has always been filling their days with joy,” Archil Elbakidze begins his story. “My father was born for being a farmer! He worked in the family field tirelessly and with an immense care trying to achieve a better harvest every year. I have been helping him from the young age, and in return, he was cultivating a love of nature in me day after day. And I must say that he did it,” says Elbakidze.
Therefore, it was obvious for him that he would make his living from farming in a new place as well. First of all, Elbakidze tried to grow potatoes, but it did not turn out well. Harvests were poor and he could not satisfy even the basic needs of his family.
“I never grew more than a hundred kilos of potatoes, and it was not enough for us. I also tried cultivating other crops, but I had poor results as well, until finally I started growing strawberries, and here I see the future. Their profitability is good and the repurchasing price is high,” said the farmer, who was inspired by the People in Need social program.
Giving work to other refugees
Program supporting the social integration of refugees and internally displaces persons, which was launched in 2014, tries to improve the living standards of the people, who were forced to leave their homes, by increasing food production and reducing poverty in the country. With the help of People in Need, refugees can start their own businesses, which will provide them with a regular income. Archil Elbakidze was one of those involved in the program.
First of all, People in Need made an analysis of Elbakidze’s soil and recommended him to grow strawberries. After that, they helped him to build an irrigation system and gave him thousands of seedlings. They grow well in the greenhouses and the harvest can reach up to one ton.
Elbakidze still feels a great solidarity with other refugees and tries to help them as much as he can by providing them with jobs. The majority of his employees are women, which left their homes because of the Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008.
It is important not to give up
With such a successfully developing business, Elbakidze could stop and just enjoy the results of his work, but it is not his style. So, recently he founded an organization that helps new entrepreneurs to develop their skills and he is also thinking about other activities.
“We are planning to cultivate more soil and to expand the production. I would like to hire more people so that my family and I could influence the emergence of new businesses,” says Elbakidze, whose success could be an inspiration for other entrepreneurs.
“I have one simple advice for all the entrepreneurs. There is nothing you cannot achieve, if you believe in yourself and put your heart into what you are doing,” says the farmer. “I think that very often people give up too quickly. The thing that you do may be really hard, but if you keep doing it regardless, in the end you will be surprised with the results you achieve. There are these little steps, which you do daily, that will finally lead you to success,” he concludes.