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Rehabilitation of Zemo Samgori Irrigation System (ZEMOSAM)


This ORIO project aims to rehabilitate the Zemo Samgori Irrigation System, the largest irrigation and drainage system of Georgia’s total gravity irrigation network. When fully operational, the network will serve 27,532 farms in the rural areas of the provinces of Kaheti, Mtskheti and Kvemo Kartli.


Zemo Samgori Irrigation System, North East of Tbilisi, Georgia




Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia

Competent Authority

United Amelioration Systems Company of Georgia (UASCG)

Project number


Total project cost / Total ORIO Grant amount

55,530,000 Euro / 15,470,000 Euro

Status project

Development Phase

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the agricultural sector was re-structured. The Soviet era collective farm system was dismantled, with families receiving a plot of land of the same size, frequently in several different locations. This created a smallholder-based rural economy with hundreds of thousands of farmers owning approximately 1 ha of arable land. Due to a lack of government funds, a weak institutional framework, and little priority given to agricultural sector development, the extensive Georgian irrigation system, dating back to the Soviet era deteriorated substantially. Of the 550,000 ha of irrigation and drainage infrastructure in 1992, only 45,000 ha of irrigation and 16,000 ha of drainage was in use by 2013.

The project aims to rehabilitate, operate, and adequately maintain the Zemo Samgori Irrigation System. With its 30,285 ha, Zemo Samgori is the largest irrigation and drainage system of Georgia's total gravity irrigation network of 278,294 ha. The system receives water from the river Iori. Zemo Samgori has 82 km of main canals, and 236 km of secondary channels and 35 km of drainage collectors, mainly in the Lower Main Channel Area. Included in the project are civil works (cleaning and excavation of primary, secondary and tertiary canals, concrete lining of canals, replacement of gates, pipes, and repair of collapsed bridges, as well as drainage), UASCG institutional and capacity building as well as an extension and awareness raising  programme.

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