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Georgian CSOs will Promote Free Trade with EU in Rural Areas

A new project in support of economic development in rural areas in Georgia was launched. The project ‘Regional Civil Society Organisations as Vectors of Rural Economic Development’ is implemented by the Czech NGO People in Need with financial support of the European Union.

The launching event was the occasion for PIN and its partners, Rural Communities Development Agency, PMC Research Center and Association “Atinati” as well as the Georgian Alliance on Agriculture and Rural Development, to present to stakeholders in the regions the project’s objectives and expected results together with the project activities.

PIN country director Lauriane Gauny emphasized that DCFTA represents both a great opportunity, but also a challenge for the rural population of Georgia. “Small agricultural producers need support to adapt to new requirements and civil society organisations based in rural areas are the best placed to help producers along this adaptation process,” she said.

Participants showed interest in the various trainings planned in the regions which will enhance the skills and capacities of 24 CSO and local action groups (LAG). Through these trainings, CSOs and LAG will acquire the necessary knowledge about DCFTA-related aspects, advocacy techniques and value chain research which will help regional producers to identify local products that have a potential to enter European markets.

CSOs and LAGs with PIN’s assistance will ensure that regional CSOs and regional producers have access to information by establishing information and resource desks in the target rural areas, namely Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Adjara and Kvemo-Kartli) .

PIN project management and its partners answered questions from the audience, which mostly revolved around the functioning of information-resource desks, the channels of information delivery to the rural producers about free trade with Europe and dialogue with the government about the salient DCFTA related-issues to be identified during the project.

Representatives of the EU delegation, Ministry of Agriculture, State Minister’s Office on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration spoke about the importance of promoting awareness of DCFTA in the rural areas in order to boost Georgia’s integration into the EU market.

The project aims at promoting the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area in Georgian in the seven target rural regions. To do so, capacities of Georgia’s civil society organizations (CSO) will be strengthened so that they can in return help regional small, micro and medium enterprises as well as individual agrarian-producers seize the opportunities opened by the EU Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

The project is part of EU assistance to the Georgian Government in implementing the DCFTA), facilitating Georgia’s integration into the EU market. EU supports focuses on strengthening the capacities of Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to adjust to a new regulatory environment, notably by strengthening economic actors and SMEs along the DCFTA process and ensuring the economic integration of targeted groups, such as internally displaced persons (IDPs), returned migrants, women in business and young entrepreneurs.