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NEO presents successful project at Administrative boundary line

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, September 28
Deputy US Ambassador Nickolas R. Berliner visited communities along the administrative boundary line with the occupied territory of South Ossetia on September 25.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - supported New Economic Opportunities (NEO) project has implemented 35 small-scale infrastructure projects and provided livelihood and rural development assistance to several thousand households. The United States remains committed to supporting Georgia's economic development and supporting its territorial integrity at the same time.

“The NEO project develops agriculture and creates economic opportunities. This region needs special care and support since the population has suffered political divisions, which are destructive for every field. That is why the region needs an economic boost. They need to overcome the losses they have suffered,” state Berliner.

In 2015 the NEO project supported 135 farmers from 31 Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) villages, creating an estimated 950 seasonal jobs for vulnerable populations. This assistance entails expanding open-field and greenhouse production of vegetables, herbs, and raspberries using modern production techniques. For the last three years the NEO project also supported 35 small-scale infrastructure projects in communities along the ABL, benefiting almost 4,000 households.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Gocha Tsopurishvili said that the project is very important.

“This is Georgian agriculture's future. I am very grateful that USAID aims exactly at the most important topics. Such project can for real motivate farmer and develop the agriculture in the county. Government also has its plans regarding the sector and together we will improve the situation,” stated Tsopurishvili.

Farmer woman Mariam Mtchedlidze said that USAID helped her in creating a really good business.

“I am growing raspberries and it is my only income. I heard about the NEO project last year and decided to participate in it. I made my business plan and went to them. NEO approved my plan and today I have my own business. USAID gave me special seed of berries which gives me harvest 2 times a year. I am the only breadwinner in the family. Today they gave me a small tractor which I needed a lot,” stated Mtchedlidze.

Farmer woman Maka Lomsadze addressed the Georgian government:

“The project which is run by NEO is very important. However, USAID alone cannot do much and they need more support from government to later help us. That is why I ask our government to pay more attention to such projects,” stated Lomsadze.

The NEO project is funded by the U.S. Government, through USAID, to help Georgians access economic markets, attract investment, and identify and implement economically beneficial infrastructure projects. In total, the project will benefit at least 70,000 rural and vulnerable households in 10 municipalities: Dusheti, Kazbegi, Kareli, Gori, Khashuri, Oni, Tsageri, Lentekhi, Zugdidi, and Tsalenjikha. The project fosters sustainable poverty reduction, improved living standards for vulnerable populations, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and increased local government participation in addressing community needs.