On 5 October 2017, the consortia implementing ENPARD’s rural development projects in Georgia, led by CARE, Mercy Corps and People in Need, organised the Third International Conference “Rural Development in Georgia”.
At the conference, implementing partners summarized the results and achievements of the two-year activities under the pilot rural development projects supported by the EU in the municipalities of Lagodekhi, Borjomi and Kazbegi. Also, the stakeholders presented their views on the continuous implementation of the European rural development model, LEADER approach in Georgia.
Mr. Nodar Kereselidze, First Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Mr. Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia officially opened the event. The representatives of ENPARD partner international and local organisations, Local Action Groups (LAGs), invited international experts and project beneficiaries participated in the conference.
Overall, EU has allocated EUR 3 million in the first phase of implementation of the pilot rural development measures in all three municipalities. In the scope of the projects, partners conducted an active information campaign with the respective communities, established Local Action Groups (LAGs) and drafted the Strategies of Local Development along with Action Plans. Next, following the priorities defined by the Local Development Strategies, partners announced grant contests, in the scope of which the EU funding was approved for over 100 development initiatives, including the sectors of agriculture, environment, tourism and other non-agricultural businesses, public infrastructure, education, sport and culture. These business initiatives now provide better employment to over 1,000 rural households, and improving living conditions of over 54,000 rural population.
In the light of successful implementation of the first pilot rural development projects, EU expanded its support to the sector. In 2016, under ENPARD II phase, the existing three pilot projects were extended, and three new rural development projects were launched in Akhalkalaki, Dedoplistskaro, Tetritskaro. In 2017, two additional rural development projects were launched in Keda and Khulo municipalities in the autonomous republic of Adjara. At present, in total, eight rural development projects operate with the EU support throughout Georgia.
Moreover, in 2016, with the EU support, the Government of Georgia adopted first ever National Rural Development Strategy and Action Plan, hence promoting the implementation of the European model of rural development at the national level.
At the end of the conference, ENPARD partner organisations, implementing the rural development projects in Georgia, signed the communique for supporting establishment of the Georgian Association of Local Action Groups (GALAG). The GALAG will unite municipal level LAGs in Georgia, and will actively cooperate with the European Association of LAGs to implement joint rural development initiatives in the country.
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 102 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia. The first phase of ENPARD in Georgia focused on developing the potential of agriculture. The second phase of ENPARD focuses on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.