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On 13 December at the conference “Improving Rural Lives” held in Tbilisi, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Ambassador of the European Union Janos Herman, and Minister of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili summarised the results of the first phase of the EU’s European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) in Georgia which ran from 2014 to 2017. An estimated 250,000 Georgians in rural areas directly benefitted from the programme.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated: “I would like to express my sincere gratitude towards European Union for the significant support it provides to our country. In particular, I would like underline EU’s assistance to Georgia in the field of agriculture and rural development, which we take as our partners’ faith in us, and at the same time, as endorsement of the reforms we undertake. €77.5 million extended by EU within ENPARD III, and the overall ENPARD assistance worth of €180 million, is tremendously important for our country, considering that the revitalization of rural areas and the development of agriculture are among our top priorities.”
The EU also used the event to announce a further 230 million GEL (77.5 million EUR) for a third phase of ENPARD to run from 2018-2021.
Speaking at the conference, Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union, said, "ENPARD is the EU's flagship development programme in Georgia responding to our commitment to improve lives in rural areas. I am proud to say that over the four years of this programme, working closely with the Government and numerous partners, we have generated new production models and stimulated modern services. According to our estimate, around one third of Georgians in rural areas have already benefitted by some means from ENPARD. Together with the Government, we launch now the new, third phase of the programme, starting on the ground in 2018. Doing so, we build on what we have achieved, putting even more emphasis on sustainable development and job creation."
At the event, the official keynote speeches were followed by a session with the participation of EU beneficiaries. The representatives of EU funded agricultural and rural development projects shared their experiences and success stories, as well as discussed the challenges and future perspectives. In addition, presentation of external evaluation report on different components of ENPARD Phase I was delivered by ENPARD external evaluation team.
In the framework of the event, ENPARD cooperatives gallery and the photo-exhibition of the EU-funded rural development initiatives were organized, so the guests could observe the programme’s results.
The event was attended by over 150 representatives of the Government, EU partners and ENPARD implementing international and local organisations, diplomatic corps and the media.
About ENPARD I
The first phase of ENPARD ran from 2014-2017 with a budget of €52 million (over GEL 150 million). The programme was based on three key pillars: (1) supporting modernisation and professionalisation of the Ministry of Agriculture and related institutions to help them better assist farmers; (2) Promoting and developing the cooperative model of farming in Georgia; and (3) Promoting employment opportunities beyond agriculture in rural areas through rural development approaches.
In all three pillars, EU provided training, funding and professional assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture and other related institutions, based on best EUMS practices to help them become more efficient and capable of helping farmers and people in rural areas.
With EU support, today, the Government has developed three modern strategies to address Agriculture, Rural Development, and Agricultural Extension. In addition, EU has supported in rolling-out key services such as a National Online Price Tracking System for agricultural produce allowing farmers to get reliable price information for selling their products; Monitoring and Evaluation System for better planning new programmes and budgeting; Quality Schemes for protected geographic indications, designations of origin and traditional specialty guaranteed.
Moreover, EU has helped the Government to establish 59 Information and Consultation Centres across the country, which provide free advice and training to farmers on farming. To date, over 250,000 farmer have benefitted from the services of these centres.
EU’s assistance has also been instrumental in the strengthening of cooperation among small farmers in Georgia. One of the milestone achievement of ENPARD’s cooperation component was the adoption of the law on agricultural cooperatives and the establishment of the Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency (ACDA) – a key institution under the Ministry of Agriculture that now works towards improving productivity and competitiveness of agricultural cooperatives in Georgia.
Today around 1,500 cooperatives are registered in Georgia, uniting up to 15,000 farmers. Of these, more than 280 cooperatives received direct EU funding and technical assistance worth over GEL 13 million. With EU financing and grant schemes, ENPARD implementing partners have assisted the cooperatives by purchasing assets, providing intensive technical support via onsite trainings and expertise, as well as helped in market linkages for purchasing inputs and selling outputs. Around 8000 farmers across Georgia have been trained and improved their skills in farming and business management. Additionally, over 1000 cooperatives have received a total of GEL 6 million in grants through state aid programmes, supported by the EU.
Moreover, within the first phase of ENPARD, EU has introduced European model of rural development. Agriculture is not the only source of rural jobs and incomes anymore. There is a need to diversify rural economies taking in a sustainable manner. To address this, the EU introduced a bottom-up approach based on EU best practices that places local citizens, NGOs and municipalities at the centre of developing solutions for their regions. Following this model, EU has provided direct support to pilot rural development actions in three areas - Lagodekhi, Borjomi and Kazbegi. Under ENPARD I, over 120 rural development initiatives were launched, boosting production and services in the areas of agriculture, tourism, social and rural infrastructure and environment. These initiatives have already provided better employment to over 700 rural households.
About ENPARD III
ENPARD III, with a budget of €77.5 million (over GEL 230 million), to be implementing in the period of 2018-2021. It will focus on enhancing competitiveness of agriculture by supporting the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia in the implementation of agricultural policy; providing farmers with improved access to finance and training and education on agribusiness; developing value chains for farmers’ commodities; and improving food safety, quality standards and procedures for inspection and control. In addition, the third phase will consider improving employment and living conditions in rural areas by supporting the Government of Georgia and the Government of Ajara AR in the implementation of rural development policy; implementing programmes in support of diversification of economic activity in rural areas and improving employment and services in different regions of Georgia, including Ajara and Abkhazia; and protection and enhancement of natural and cultural heritage. Moreover, within the third phase EU will assist Georgia in improving environment, sustainable management of natural resources and climate action by: support to the implementation of climate-smart agricultural practices; protection, climate resilience and environmental value of forest ecosystems; and support to the sustainable management of natural resources, including forests and protected areas.
The EU supports agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million (over GEL 500 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 is centred on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. The third phases will continue strengthening the agriculture sector, and also focus food safety and quality standards and further development of the rural development model.
ENPARD is implemented in partnership with implementing partners, which include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Evoluxer, Oxfam, People in Need, CARE, Mercy Corps, the University of Limerick and the Georgian Insitute of Public Affairs (GIPA).
More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.