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Journal number 3 ∘ Eter Kharaishvili
Trends and Prospects of Digital Transformation in the Agri-food Sector of Georgia

The paper substantiates the necessity of implementation of digital transformation in the agri-food sector of Georgia. The importance of digitization in increasing competitiveness is evaluated taking into account the peculiarities of the sector.
The level of digital transformation in the agri-food sector of different countries is studied through bibliographic research; various opinions of researchers on the concept of digitization are evaluated.
It is substantiated that digitization provides new opportunities for development in many industries; application of digital technologies allows ensuring the sustainability of the agri-food sector and increasing the productivity.
Based on the analysis, the primary areas influenced by the digital transformation are revealed; it is concluded that the implementation of the digitization process should start at the enterprise level.
The paper is based on various theoretical and methodological research tools - bibliographic research has been conducted; research methods such as analysis, synthesis, comparison, expert, matrix, factorial and various statistical methods have been applied. A quantitative study was conducted in May-June 2023 with the purpose to identify problems of digital transformation in the agri-food sector of Georgia. 466 respondents were interviewed using Google Form online questionnaire.
A representative sample (466 respondents) was selected from the general population for the survey. This number meets the volume sampling methodology (John Wiley & Sons, 1977. Copyright William G. Cochran, 1963). The reliability of the research results with this methodology is 95%; the sampling error is 3%.
The sample size was verified using Neuman's method. The overall study population (2,108 respondents) was found to meet the medium sample size (from 1,000 to 10,000 respondents), with a sample size of 10%; (Pearson Education Limited (W. Lawrence Neuman), 2014). Therefore, the survey of 211 respondents with a 4% margin of error would be also adequate. In fact, the survey covered 466 respondents, with a sample size of 22.1%. This resulted in the reduction of the error to 3%.
Quantitative research was carried out according to the sections such as identification, competences, practical and assessment sections - the distribution of respondents according to gender, age, professional, organizational and regional distribution is studied based on the identifying section; the competence section studies the respondents according to their length of service, the area of land owned and the level of digital skills proficiency; the practical section contains questions that need to be answered based on one’s experience, specifically, the length of using digital technologies, the purposes of using digital technologies, the applications and services used; the assessment section deals with the level of digital divide, access to the Internet, the existing barriers to the use of digital technologies; in addition, the role of the state in the digital transformation of the agri-food sector is assessed, the needs of digital transformation of the sector are identified, and the benefits from digital transformation are identified.
The majority of respondents (97.4%) perceive the use of digital technologies as a new opportunity for development. However, only 87.4% of them declare that their action plan include strategy for operating in the digital world.
The research has shown that there are different purposes for using digital technologies. Manufacturers mostly use mobile phones and computers (97%); while drones, GPSs and electronic sensors are used by only 2.6%. In addition, there was an individual answer of the respondent that along with the mentioned technologies he also uses the weather station and internet-controlled irrigation systems.
Manufacturers use various applications/services for achieving the stated goals, including: Microsoft programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams), social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, LinkedIn, Viber, Telegram), email (Gmail, Yahoo), mobile banks (BOG, Liberty), state programs (My.gov.ge). The applications/services used by them are provided by public sector (54.2%) and private sector (45.8%). In addition, 33% of the respondents regularly update digital technologies, 32.2% update them sometimes, 31.3% - rarely, and 3.4% - never.
Access to internet was found out. The survey, as expected, showed that there is a so-called ‘Digital divide’. Over half of the respondents (approximately 53%) note that their access to the Internet is limited. In addition, while using digital technologies, manufacturers face other serious barriers, including: limited financial resources (39.5%), lack of information about digital technologies (35.6%), lack of knowledge/digital skills (32.6%), etc.
The priority needs of the digital transformation of the agri-food sector were identified according to the manufacturers’ assessment. The majority indicate the necessity of educational trainings, training courses and seminars; increasing access to digital technologies and financial resources; the development of digital infrastructure.
The paper provides conclusions on the peculiarities of digital transformation trends and the existing challenges, offers recommendations on prospective directions of development for digitization.


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Keywords: Digital transformation, digitization trend, agri-food sector, development prospects for digitization.
JEL Codes: O13, Q10, Q13, Q18