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Swiss aid project to improve dairy farmers' yields

By Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, June 4
Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) and Entraide Protestante Swisse (EPER), under the aegis of Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, has launched a three-year project - Market Opportunities for Livelihood Improvement - in Kakheti.

In partnership with the Helvetas Association for International Co-operation and the Association of Business Consulting Organizations Georgia, the project aims to reduce poverty through a sustainable increase in the incomes of poor rural households in Dedoplistskaro, Sagarejo, and Sighnaghi.

The one million GEL initiative will support local producers of agricultural products, particularly those which consume raw agricultural commodities from local farms, thereby supporting the production process and indirectly supporting farmers.

This means that small farmers will have the opportunity to sell their milk to cheese factories, for example. “We are working with producers of final products, distributors, and veterinarians, who will help farmers to maximize productivity,” Esther Oettli, head of HEKS' international division, said. She stated that Swiss cows give almost as twice as much milk per day as Georgian cows, thanks to better feed and veterinary care.

“This project is very important and interesting as the approach is absolutely different from what had been implementing over the years in Georgia. In this case, not only are farmers involved, but [so are] the companies with which these small farmers will co-operate," Deputy Agriculture Minister Malkhaz Akishbaia said, noting that up to 6,500 farmers will benefit as a result of the project.

Higher volumes of meal and meat are expected to improve animal health, genetics, and nutrition. The project will also improve market access, not only through more favorable commercials conditions, but also through a consultative process dealing with livestock-related governance and advocacy issues.