Photo: Vladimer Valishvili/UNDP

Up to 30 representatives of the EU-supported Local Action Groups (LAGs) from eight municipalities of Georgia, Georgian Association of Local Action Groups (GALAG) and civil society organizations met with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia at a joint workshop about rural development. The meeting was initiated by the Ministry in partnership with the Georgian Rural Development Network (GRDN) and supported by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The meeting participants discussed economic, social and environmental challenges faced by the rural areas and agreed to work together to identify local needs in the respective municipalities and find solutions to the common problems.

The Ministry officials explained the functions and mandates of the Ministry’s department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Rural Development, focusing on the role of the Ministry in advancing local economic development and improving livelihoods. Representatives of the Local Action Groups informed about their activities undertaken on the ground to address the needs of their communities.

“Government strategies and programmes in rural development should consider that each of the rural areas is unique and faces specific challenges. A targeted differentiated approach will help us tailor rural development initiatives to the    needs of the regions and municipalities and empower rural communities to manage the social, economic and environmental issues in their home areas. Local Action Groups are important drivers of rural development, especially as they serve the interests of the local communities and promote engagement of citizens, including women and youth, in the rural development process,” said George Khanishvili, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.

This first partnership meeting on rural development will be followed by a series of similar workshops organised by the Georgian Rural Development Network (GRDN) to bring together representatives of the Georgian Government and EU-supported Local Actions Groups. The consultations will be supported by the EU and UNDP under the ongoing EU-funded programme ENPARD – the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development.

ENPARD aims to reduce rural poverty in Georgia and help the country introduce the European models of rural development. It has been implemented since 2013, with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million. The first phase of the programme focused on developing the national agriculture potential, while the second and third phases focus on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.  

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