The conference aimed at informing and engaging all relevant stakeholders in the process of defining ENPARD IV programme priorities in two key areas - Rural Development and Food Safety / Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Sector. The panel discussants represented ENPARD implementing partners, Georgian LAGs and experts. Within each panel, extended time was devoted to interactive discussions involving the audience.
The consultation was opened by Mr Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia: “Over the past several years, Georgia has achieved a notable progress in agriculture and rural development and the European Union is proud to have been a part in this success by provided extensive support to make Georgia’s agriculture more competitive and to improve living standards in rural areas. Looking forward, we would like to see more Georgian farmers, cooperatives, and small and medium size enterprises better equipped to produce high quality products and export to the EU. We also support better infrastructure and services, growth of tourism, more effective local public-private partnerships and entrepreneurship in rural areas. This will help create new employment opportunities and will maximize the country’s economic growth. Under ENPARD IV, EU will continue providing advice and support to help Georgia realise this potential.” – stated Mr Rey.
The fourth phase of ENPARD is envisioned to be launched at the end of 2020. It will provide extended assistance in the food safety and SPS sector to enhance consumer protection for citizens of Georgia and to promote exports of Georgian products to EU Member States. ENPARD IV will build on the achievements of the Comprehensive Institution Building (CIB) programme and of previous ENPARD phases. It will provide further support to the National Food Agency (NFA) for improved inspection and control systems and for continuation of the legal approximation process including enforcement of newly adopted regulations. It will also support food business operators in their efforts to adapt to the sectoral reforms.
In addition, ENPARD IV will further support rural development and will improve living conditions for a larger proportion of the rural population in Georgia, rendering the rural development sector more dynamic and effectively contributing to Georgia's economic and social development. ENPARD IV will improve the economic and social integration of vulnerable households in disadvantaged rural regions of Georgia, including eco-migrants, conflict affected people, ethnic minorities, Georgian returnees and migrants. The action will continue to enhance civic participation in the regions of Georgia through increased civil society involvement in local decision-making processes and will continue to actively promote and encourage participation of youth and women, noting the specific needs and constraints of these groups.
With the support of ENPARD programme, the EU’s best practice in rural development has been introduced to eight municipalities in Georgia. Local Actions Groups (LAGs) have been created in Borjomi, Lagodekhi, Kazbebgi, Dedoplistskaro, Tetritskaro, Akhalkalaki, Keda and Khulo, which, in collaboration with the EU partner organizations, are successfully implementing rural development projects. EU has funded over 360 development initiatives through their direct involvement country-wide. Currently, the European LEADER methodology is being introduced and LAGs established in four additional municipalities - Akhmeta, Tsalka, Tskaltubo and Mestia. In 2018, an Association of Local Action Groups of Georgia was founded, which aims at supporting and promoting LEADER approach as a model for local development, cooperation of LAGs, implementation of joint projects, sharing of gained knowledge between the association members and advocacy/lobbying rural development at local and national levels.
On the basis of the positive outcomes recorded so far of these rural development initiatives as well as the commitment by Georgia to adopt this model of rural development, as evidenced also by the adoption, in December 2016, of the first national Rural Development Strategy for Georgia, ENPARD IV will build on this momentum to advance support for rural development as well as expand support to additional municipalities, drawing from lessons learnt from previous phases. ENPARD IV will therefore respond to a genuine interest from Georgian counterparts to benefit from the initiative, given the degree of success in other areas.
The European Union is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD programme. The support is grounded on the best European practices in the field and involves increasing quality, standards and overall competitiveness of agriculture, as well as improving livelihoods of rural communities through creating economic opportunities and promoting local public-private partnerships. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million so far, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia. For more information please visit: www.enpard.ge