The modern history of Abasha is primarily associated with a resonant Soviet-era economic experiment introduced by the Georgian Communist party chief Eduard Shevardnadze in the 1970s. In 1971, Shevardnadze grouped all regional agricultural institutions, including the kolkhoz, into a single management association. At the same time, those who worked on the land received material and financial preference. The move facilitated local initiative and coordination and led to a rapid increase in agricultural production in the hitherto very poor Abasha District. It had been the first private enterprise in the Soviet Union since Lenin. Early in the 1980s, the "Abasha experiment" was expanded, with varying degrees of success, to other regions of Georgia.