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EU supports Ajara Autonomous Republic to Set Rural Development Priorities for 2018-2020

With the support of EU, the Rural Development Council of Ajara Autonomous Republic approved the Rural Development Action Plan on 28 February 2017. With total budget more than GEL 214 million, the Action Plan describes programmes and measures for the coming three years (2018-2020), aiming to increase the quality of life in rural areas, promote vibrant, resourceful and enterprising rural communities, enhance the sustainable use of natural resources, and assist the diversification of the agriculture-based rural economy.

The implementation of this strategic document will support rural areas of Ajara to meet economic, environmental and social challenges referenced in the Ajara’s Rural Development Strategy 2016-2020.

“Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of Ajara’s economy, but agriculture alone cannot provide employment and income opportunities for the entire rural population. Coordinated efforts of the Autonomous Republic Government and the assistance of our international partners will allow us to develop policies and introduce programmes for the inclusive and sustainable development of rural areas,” said Avtandil Meskhidze, Minister of Agriculture of Ajara.

Based on the specific activities described in the Action Plan, the Government of Ajara intends to introduce and promote non-farm rural enterprises in the fields of services (shops, repair, crafts etc.), processing and rural tourism (hunting, fishing, historical and cultural sightseeing), as well as make farming in Ajara more viable, competitive and innovative.

The Action Plan highlights the environmental and social issues, such as sustainable management of forests, protection of biodiversity and eco-systems, social inclusion, reduction of poverty, and economic development in rural areas.

The particular attention is provided to the engagement of local communities and introduction of the European models of rural development, including the LEADER approach.

The Rural Development Action Plan of Ajara Autonomous Republic was prepared with the assistance from the European Union (EU) in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), under the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).

The European Union (EU) is supporting rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Aiming to reduce rural poverty in Georgia, ENPARD has been implemented since 2013, with the total budget of EUR 179.5 million. The first phase of ENPARD focused on developing the national agriculture potential, while the second and third phases focus on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.