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EU Representatives Visit Agricultural and Rural Development Projects in Georgia

The representatives of the Directorate General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, Mr Mathieu Bousquet and Ms Michaela Hauf paid visits to EU-supported agriculture and rural development projects in Georgia during 1-2 March 2018.

The guests visited EU-funded agricultural cooperative, fishery “Tsisartkela”, in the village Akhaldaba, Gori municipality. The 10-member cooperative produces larvae in fish nursery and keeps several trout rearing tanks. With the support of EU, the cooperative has increased the producing of larvae three times. The cooperative now aims to reach its operational capacity to completely meet supply demands and start sales of the surplus larvae, around 1,000.000 units, to other trout fishery farms in the region.

The mission also paid visit to EU’s rural development project in Borjomi and met with the members of Local Action Group (LAG). The Borjomi LAG is one of eight LAGs established with EU support in different municipalities in Georgia with the aim to encourage diversified local economic growth grounded on the best European practices. The LAG represents a unique platform of partnership between local private, civil society and public representatives, who contribute to the municipality’s social and economic development and provide participation of local population. Last year, Borjomi LAG selected 28 rural development initiatives via open grant competition. The initiatives from agriculture, tourism, sport, culture and environment sectors were funded by EU and now are successfully implemented, promoting economic development of the region.

The guests had an opportunity to see several EU-supported rural development initiatives in Borjomi: Virtual Tours of Borjomi using innovative technologies to promote remote and less known touristic places in the city, Borjomi Cultural Monuments and Landscape Photos for Tourists popularizing Borjomi’s cultural monuments and touristic attractions, Small Souvenir Shop producing various types of small wooden toys and local souvenirs, Musical Studio and Band encouraging local youth to discover their talent and practice their musical skills, as well as Sport Playground built to encourage outdoor activities and engage youth in sports.

The visit to EU funded agricultural and rural development projects in Gori and Borjomi municipalities offered the members of the Brussels’ mission first-hand information about the successes and challenges of Georgia’s rural community, as well as tangible results of EU’s support in this sector.

Agriculture and rural development is a backbone of Georgia’s economy. Half of the country’s population lives in rural areas and is employed in agriculture. Therefore, revitalization of the sector and the development of agriculture are among the country’s top priorities. EU has long been assisting Georgia in its efforts to improve lives in rural areas and to increase the welfare of its population, which in turn has helped stimulate the country’s sustainable economic growth. Under EU-funded ENPARD programme, 122 rural development initiatives were supported in the country last year, 28 of them in Borjomi. These initiatives are boosting production and services in the areas of agriculture, tourism, social and rural infrastructure and environment. They have already provided better employment to over 700 rural households and benefited more than 8000 people.

The European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) is recognised as one of the most successful agriculture and rural development initiatives funded by the European Union in Georgia. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in the country. The first phase of ENPARD in Georgia focused on developing the potential of agriculture. The second and the third phases focus on creating diversified economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge