GEORGIA: Supporting the Georgian food industry at times of Covid-19
By Nina Tsintsadze
07 Apr 2020
EBRD and EU help local poultry farm Chirina boost its capacity
Early February now seems a lifetime ago, but back then, a chicken farm in Georgia was preparing for a new milestone: Chirina was adding 14 new turnkey broiler farmhouses to increase production by 50 per cent, calling for a grand celebration. A little help from friends, including the EBRD and the EU, contributed to the success of their journey.
With sweeping efforts rolling out worldwide to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the company quickly revised its plans to adjust. But this did not stop Chirina’s management from bringing the new facilities up to full steam at a time when the local production of essential goods had become of the utmost importance.
Chirina’s motto is, “Success is a journey, not a destination,” and as one of the largest Georgian agricultural enterprises, the company prides itself on the latest technology, operational efficiency and hard-working people. But it turned out that the support of the poultry company proved vital during these trying times, with global trade disrupted and Georgia’s extreme reliance on imported goods becoming a concern.
Chirina in a nutshell
The seeds of Chirina were first sown in 2007, when Revaz Vashakidze, a biochemist by education and profession, returned to Georgia from abroad and was determined to have a say in the economic development of his home country.
Developed from the ground up, Chirina’s protein-rich chicken meat and hatching eggs now account for 40 and 60 per cent of domestic consumption and production respectively.
Historically, Georgia’s poultry market had been dominated by imports. Now, mostly thanks to Chirina, import volumes have shrunk and are expected to drop even further with Chirina’s increased production capacity.
“Chirina is a vertically integrated agricultural enterprise, which allows us to incorporate a full production chain, producing everything from seeds for chicken feed to fresh meat. Local produce is vital in the food industry, especially in times of crisis,” says Revaz:
“Since we control all levels of production, we can more easily respond to evolving needs, better control quality and quickly address any problems. We keep our finger on the pulse.”
According to the company’s estimates, around 16,000 people visit their Biu-Biu brand shops daily.
Friendship with the EBRD and the EU
The EBRD started working with the company back in 2017 on an international advisory project funded by the European Union as part of the EU4Business initiative. International industry experts helped the company to fine-tune its business procedures and plans for a new production facility.
Shortly after that Chirina became the first company in Georgia to join the Blue Ribbon programme, an EBRD initiative targeting high-growth enterprises with a combination of financial and advisory products. The EBRD’s loan of €4 million last year was complemented by support the DCFTA Direct Support Facility, which is co-financed by the European Union.
“We are proud that we managed to launch additional production capacity in these difficult times. Every day our employees rise to the challenge and ensure that production keeps on rolling, making customers more confident in the availability of food supplies. We are extremely thankful for this. On our end, we work hard to ensure our workers’ health and safety, following all requests and recommendations from the authorities,” says Revaz.
Chirina is a large employer in Georgia with over 450 people currently working for the company.
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