New opportunities for small farmers in Ajara
TBILISI. 10 December 2013. Representatives of the European Union, United Nations Development Programme and the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara visited Batumi and Kobuleti on 6 December 2013 to see the progress of the € 3.3 million programme in support of agriculture, ENPARD Ajara.
The Minister of Agriculture of the Ajara Autonomous Republic – Zaur Phutkaradze, representative of the European Union Delegation to Georgia – Juan Echanove, and Sophie Kemkhadze of UNDP in Georgia, opened the Kobuleti branch of the Ajara Agriservice Centre and handed over certificates to the 39 successful graduates of a training course in agriculture extension services.
The AgriService Centre will assist small farmers in viticulture, animal husbandry, vet services, food processing, cold storage and greenhouse production. The centre will provide information and consultation, business advice and strategic planning. It will also implement demonstration projects to introduce best practices and new agriculture technologies. A network of branch offices will open throughout the region next year to make the assistance of the AgriService Centre even more accessible.
Minister Phutkaradze and representatives of the European Union and UNDP discussed the prospects of the Ajara agriculture in view of initiating the Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia. They noted that the EU-funded ENPARD programme opens new opportunities for increasing the efficiency of farming and enhancing small farmers to become a backbone of the agriculture sector.
As part of the visit programme, the Minister invited the guests to the Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture which has recently received the ISO 17025 certificate, and a mandarin sorting and packing facility in Kobuleti, the largest and best equipped in Georgia. International standards in food safety will raise the quality of agriculture produce in Ajara and will promote it to international markets.
Tamar Mikadze, European Union Delegation to Georgia, +995 32 294 3763, Tamriko.Mikadze@eeas.europa.eu
Sophie Tchitchinadze, UNDP in Georgia, 599 196907 (mobile), Sophie.Tchitchinadze@undp.org