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Georgia to receive Euro1.16 million from EU, Sweden and Austria for agriculture development

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, April 30
In the frame of the GRETA project, EU Sweden and Austria launched supporting the Local Development Initiative(LDI), in the sector of organic agriculture to create economic opportunities for farmers, farmer groups, cooperatives, processing units as well as other actors along various organic value chains.

GRETA, a four-year (2019-2020) project of Sustainable Mountain Tourism & Organic Agriculture, focuses on the support of Georgian small and medium enterprises to professionalise and scale up. The action will also facilitate an improvement of the business environment and the creation of new income opportunities in the two growth sectors: mountain tourism and organic agriculture. The Euro6.8 million project is co-funded by the EU(Euro3 million) and the two EU member states Sweden(Euro2.8 million) and Austria(Euro1 million)

The initiative is targeted at applicants of Mestia, Lentekhi, Tsageri, Oni, Ambrolauri, Sachkhere, Chiatura and Tkibuli municipalities, including the farmers, farming families, farmer formal/informal groups, sole entrepreneurs, family agricultural business holders, cooperatives and farmer groups. Individuals/units from the organic agriculture sector, who are based outside of those municipalities but purchase their organic product from the region can also participate in the Local Development Initiative.

The size of the LDI support per applicant or group of applicants shall be between ??5 000 and ??150 000 with the co-financing share at minimum 10% of the total budget.

As the ambassador of EU to Georgia, Carl Hartzell stated, financial assistance aimed at recovering economic situation in Georgia, is one of the priorities of EU, added that the country owns great potential of organic agriculture, yet, due to the lack of access to the agricultural inputs, credits, markets and information, the opportunities remain underutilised. As he said ‘supporting Local Development Initiative is a timely step to overcome the challenges.’

“We believe that joining forces gives better results, this is the very reason the EU, Sweden and Austria have united resources to support smallholder farmers and small-scale processors, especially from high mountain rural areas,” the ambassador of Sweden to Georgia, Ulrik Tidestrom remarked He also stated he’s glad that despite the existing situation, the project GRETA keeps operating successfully and contributes to the economic development of mountainous regions as well as creates new working alternatives.

As the ambassador of Austria to Georgia pointed out, agriculture is a significant sector for Austria in cooperation with Georgia, and as it is visible, agriculture is becoming more and more important in the middle of this crisis. He also remarked that creating co-financing opportunities, sharing experience, and providing smallholder farmers and small-scale processors with agricultural input supplies and equipment are one of the most important actions for economic revival, nowadays.

To participate in the event, the presented idea/project should fulfill one of the criteria given below.

A binding declaration must be given that organic farming practices will be used and that organic certification is the goal of the enterprise or of the group;

Smallholder farmers (individuals) seeking to start, diversify or expand into organic production and that enter into a binding declaration towards organic certification;

Farmer groups that have a formal cooperative type of organization or who have a proven history of cooperation and want to become certified organic;

Individual marketing enterprises that have a proven record of selling organic products or that wish to move into the organic produce market;

Organic farming input suppliers (that supply organic seeds or planting materials, organically certified natural pesticides, composting materials, organic feed, etc.).