A hailstorm in Kakheti on 28 May has destroyed the majority of vineyards and other crops in three villages of Sighnaghi Municipality: Jugaani, Tibaani, and Bodbiskhevi.
According to local residents, 90% of their crops have been damaged. The government has not yet assessed the damage.
Nino Alughishvili, one of the people affected by the hail, told Rustavi 2 that most of her vineyard has been damaged.
‘It seems that people will stay hungry this year, because everything has been destroyed — the vegetable garden, vineyard, everything. Last year we were also affected by hail, and the harvest was ruined, and this year it happened again’, Alughishvili said.
The hail storm lasted for about half an hour. Victims blame the malfunction of an anti-hail missile system employed by the government, saying that it hadn’t worked properly.
‘Four hectares of vineyards and three hectares of crops have been destroyed, almost nothing is left. Heavy hail even damaged cars. Why doesn’t the anti-hail system help to prevent such a strong disaster?’ said one of the victims, Akaki Jikashvili.
The anti-hail system used in Kakheti was designed by the State Military Scientific-Technical Centre Delta. Head of the company’s Public Relations Division, Tamar Gvarishvili, said in 2015 that one of the main motivations for the government to introduce the system was that people in Kakheti demanded it in 2012, after a series of disastrous hailstorms.
The anti-hail system was installed in 2013–2015 in 83 points in Kakheti, covering all municipalities of Kakheti. The cost of the project was ₾14.7 million ($6 million), which the government allocated from the state budget.
In May 2017, more than ten villages of Gurjaani, Lagodekhi, and Akhmeta municipalities were affected by hail, with a large number of crops being destroyed.