On January 31- February 1, 2018, senior representatives of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Ministry of Agriculture of Ajara AR, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, ENPARD implementing partners and Local Action Groups (LAGs) gathered at the first Steering Committee and LAG networking meeting organised by ENPARD partner – Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN). The event took place within EU-supported project “Optimising the Potential of Local Assets for Rural Development of Keda Municipality” at Bulachauri Green Center. It aimed at introducing the progress within the project and exchanging information and recommendations among involved counterparts.
Opening remarks were delivered by Nana Janashia, Executive Director of CENN, Avtandil Meskhidze, Minister of Agriculture of Adjara AR and Alvaro Ortega Aparicio, Project Manager for Environment and Rural Development at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
As noted by the CENN Executive Director Nana Janashia, “the establishment of LAG in Keda is a result of an extensive cooperation between the local community, our partners and CENN itself. Next step is to continue this process and support local initiatives even more, via the bottom up LEADER approach”.
Alvaro Ortega Aparicio, Project Manager for Environment and Rural Development at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia presented on the key components and goals of ENPARD programme in Georgia. He highlighted the importance of EU-supported rural development projects in the country, including the two recently launched municipal projects in Ajara. He noted that the most important goal for both ENPARD targeted regions in Ajara – Keda and Khulo – is to develop coherent local development strategies by mobilising and engaging local communities. Mr Ortega also stressed the importance of environmental initiatives under the rural development action.
In addition, the presentations were delivered by Nino Gaprindashvili, CENN Project Manager and Giorgi Abuladze, Chair of Keda LAG, who spoke about the current state and future plans of the ENPARD project and LAG activities in Keda; Giorgi Nanobashvili, Economic Development Team Leader of UNDP who spoke on the project activities in Adjara AR and overviewed the planned actions within ENPARD III; and Javier Sanz Alvarez, Programme Officer for FAO-ENPARD projects in Georgia, who informed the participants about FAO’s planned activities and support measures to agriculture under ENPARD III.
In the framework of the two-day event, CENN also hosted LAG networking meeting at which it brought together representatives of 8 LAGs established with the support of ENPARD in different municipalities in Georgia. The networking platform was a good opportunity to tighten the linkages and partnership opportunities among participants, exchange feedbacks or suggestions for further development and share experience. The CENN team shared information on the organization’s ongoing environmental actions in different municipalities in Georgia and encouraged deeper partnership among rural development projects and LAGs in this regard.
The EU-supported project is implemented by CENN in partnership with the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Institute of Democracy (IoD) and Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning (ÖIR). The project aims at diversifying the local economic activities, improving the investment climate, and empowering competitive agricultural and environmental practices in Keda Municipality via bottom-up strategic planning of rural development.
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 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 and third phases of ENPARD focus on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at www.enpard.ge.