Until the land-privatization program that began in 1992, most Georgian farms were state-run collectives averaging 428 hectares in size. Even under Soviet rule, however, Georgia had a vigorous private agricultural sector. In 1990, according to official statistics, the private sector contributed 46 percent of gross agricultural output, and private productivity averaged about twice that of the state farms. Under the state system, designated plots were leased to farmers and town dwellers for private crop and livestock raising. As during the Soviet era, more than half of Georgia's meat and milk and nearly half of its eggs come from private producers.
As was the case with enterprise privatization, Gamsakhurdia postponed systematic land reform because he feared that local mafias would dominate the redistribution process. But within weeks of his ouster in early 1992, the new government issued a land reform resolution providing land grants of one-half hectare to individuals with the stipulation that the land be farmed. Commissions were established in each village to inventory land parcels and identify those to be privatized. Limitations were placed on what the new "owners" could do with their land, and would-be private farmers faced serious problems in obtaining seeds, fertilizer, and equipment. By the end of 1993, over half the cultivated land was in private hands. Small plots were given free to city dwellers to relieve the acute food shortage that year.
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