To help Georgia’s rural regions respond to the economic and social challenges emerging amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today launched a GEL 9 million grant programme together with the Agriculture and Rural Development Agency (ARDA) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture. The grants are designed to boost rural entrepreneurship, create sustainable jobs, improve the management of natural resources and promote climate action.
The programme will be implemented in eight municipalities – Akhalkalaki, Borjomi, Dedoplistskaro, Kazbegi, Keda, Khulo, Lagodekhi and Tetritskaro – where UNDP and the EU are working together to promote livelihoods outside agriculture. Applicants can be based elsewhere in Georgia but will need to show a connection with the targeted municipalities.
“The grant programme is a flexible and effective instrument for strengthening the rural economy,” said Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) of Georgia. “It will help diversify economic activities in Georgia’s regions and foster non-farming businesses across the country.”
“The EU is mobilising all possible resources to assist Georgia to recover from the current crisis. I am especially glad that these grants will target rural areas around the country, where economic development can be a challenge even in normal times,” said EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell.
The Rural Development Programme is assisting non-agricultural business start-ups and growing enterprises with grants worth up to GEL 170,000 per project. Additional grants worth up to GEL 30,000 will be provided to businesses to improve energy efficiency. To ensure sustainability, all grantees are expected to provide at least 20% co-financing for their projects. Applications for the current round are due by 1 August 2020. More information is available at www.arda.gov.ge
“Georgia’s exemplary COVID-19 response has saved lives,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “Our new grants programme is aimed at saving livelihoods that are threatened by the shutdown, and also at applying the principle of ‘building back better.’ We have a chance now to promote green alternatives in rural areas that will benefit both people and planet.”
The EU and UNDP are long-term supporters of rural development in Georgia. More than GEL 600 million (EUR 179.5 million) in EU assistance has been allocated to Georgia under the ENPARD programme for 2013-2022. This support is designed to improve agricultural productivity, refine rural development policies and create new economic opportunities for rural communities, both in agriculture and outside of it. In parallel to UNDP’s work in rural development, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working with the EU and MEPA to operate a grants programme to support farm businesses and improve food security.