Twenty journalists from the leading Georgian media visited Kazbegi on 10th – 11th October to familiarize with the work done in the municipality under the EU-supported ENPARD programme. Throughout a two-day trip, the journalists met with Kazbegi ENPARD project and Local Action Group (LAG) members in Stepantsminda, as well as visited several EU-funded rural development initiatives in the surrounding villages. The media tour was organized by ENPARD Communication Unit (ECU) with the support of EU and in partnership with ENPARD implementing partner People in Need (PIN).
On 10th October, the information meeting of media with the members of Kazbegi project was opened by ENPARD Communication Team Leader Tamar Khuntsaria. She spoke about EU’s support to agriculture and rural development in Georgia, goals, achievements and future plans of ENPARD programme in the country. The presentation about ENPARD’s rural development project in Kazbegi was delivered by project manager Salome Bakashvili. In addition, journalists were informed about Kazbegi LAG activities by the members of Kazbegi LAG. The seminar was followed by a lively discussion and interviews with the project and LAG members.
In the scope of the visit, the media also visited various EU-funded rural development projects in Stepantsminda, Gergeti, Arsha, Achkhoti and other villages. The journalists learned about diverse economic and social initiatives and their impact on the development of local community.
EU-supported restaurant “Green Sheep” is located in Stepantsminda. It is a part of a high standard guesthouse and offers national, local authentic food and experience to all visitors. The restaurant employs twelve people and, as part of the special agreement with Kazbegi LAG, also provides internships and on job training to local young people.
EU beneficiary Tsitsia Davitashvili lives in the village of Fkelshe, Kazbegi municipality, where she runs a small enamel workshop. Tsitsia is experienced in producing enamel souvenirs and jewels, but she did not have her workshop with necessary equipment to produce more and with a better quality. With EU funds LAG Kazbegi supported Tsitsia and granted her all necessary equipment for her work. Nowadays Tsitsia employs three persons and sells her jewelleries in Kazbegi and Tbilisi shops.
ENPARD supported all public kindergartens in Kazbegi municipality. The media visited one of the Kindergartens in Stepantsminda. During many years the kids lacked proper yard infrastructure. The project provided them with all necessary equipment and materials to arrange playground. Today, local kids enjoy beautiful playground in the breathtaking background of Kazbegi mountains.
Kazbegi does not have many places where tourist or visitors can actively spend time. That is why ENPARD supported Beqa Sukashvili’s initiative – “Airsoft” games. The games are organized near Gergeti village for different categories of tourist. This involves team battles, discovering hidden objects, paint fight. Airsoft club also offers Picnics for tourists after the game. This initiative, which provides entertainment services to tourists, employs five people.
Donari Tsiklauri runs a half-finished dish manufacture and produces traditional dish named “Khinkali Gergetuli” in the village of Gergeti. No similar business exists in the municipality. Beneficiary organized the manufacture at 20 sq.m. space, repaired and adopted room according to food safety standards. The EU funding provided her with needed equipment. As a result, the beneficiary has become able to produce five different sorts of half-finished traditional Kazbegian khinkali. The beneficiary is distributing the products to local restaurants, guest houses, and food markets. The project supports touristic services development in Kazbegi municipality. The project employes five people.
To supports tourism service development and income diversification in villages, ENPARD supported Aleksi Gudushauri develop his guesthouse and provided him with modern furniture and kitchen appliances. The duesthouse, in the village Achkhoti, has active demand and has income around 4500 $ per month. Alex employs three local persons in his startup business.
Irma Burduli manufactures metal-plastic doors and windows in the village Achkhoti. With the help of ENPARD her business was equipped with modern machinery. EU funding has increased the existing production and quality. Besides, beneficiary added aluminum doors and windows in her production. The project is innovative not only for Achkhoti village but for whole municipality. Local residents and businesses are customers. Irma employs four local residents.
Rural development has an important role to play in the sustainable development of Georgia. Over 42% of the country’s population lives in rural areas and 48% are employed in agriculture. Revitalizing rural economies and boosting Georgia’s potential in agriculture is therefore vital for increasing the welfare of the population and stimulating the country’s economy.
The European Union is supporting rural development in Georgia through the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). The programme started in 2013 and thus far has accounted for 179.5 million EUR (including all III phases). The support entails in particular progressive convergence towards EU policies and legislation, sharing the best European practices to promote economic well-being for rural communities, and enhancing the administrative capacities at central and local level. Key thus far achievements include:
The adoption of the first-ever National Strategy for Rural Development of Georgia 2017-2020 and Action Plan 2018;
Promoting an area-based and bottom-up approach to rural development – European LEADER model – now in 8 municipalities in Georgia (Lagodekhi, Borjomi, Kazbegi, Dedoplistskaro, Tetritskaro, Akhalkalaki, Keda and Khulo);
Under ENPARD I, 122 rural development initiatives were funded with EU grants so far, over 60 of them in Kazbegi municipality.
As a result, over 700 rural households in Georgia have access to better employment and over 8,000 rural population have improved their living conditions.
Grant competitions are being finalized under ENPARD II that will result in a new wave of EU-funded rural development beneficiaries across the country in 2019.