Some 480 women farmers in seven regions will receive supplies and protective gear from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of a programme to help vulnerable households improve farm incomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ten tons of fertilizers and plant protection products were distributed last week to 300 women-headed households in Imereti, Guria, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti regions, and another 180 women in Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Mtskheta-Mtianeti regions will soon receive similar support.
Most residents of rural areas in Georgia engage in some form of farming, but in most cases, this is on a subsistence basis and is supplemented by other forms of income. With the pandemic eliminating many wage-earning jobs, particularly part-time and informal positions that are mostly held by women, many rural families have sought to close the gap by seeking to expand cultivation. The UNDP initiative is designed to assist vulnerable households that may lack the resources to pursue this coping strategy effectively.
“Making a living from agriculture in Georgia is a challenging prospect in the best of times,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “The pandemic has not made it any easier, but for many families farming currently offers a more promising source of income than other sectors, where COVID-19 has undercut employment, especially for women. Our aim is to ensure that the poorest rural households stand a chance in this effort.”
Standard packages of agricultural inputs and basic equipment deemed most helpful to subsistence farmers were defined by the Rural Development Agency that works under the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture. They were distributed to women heads of households, single parents, IDPs, national minorities and families living in poverty. Recipients were selected in partnership with the Association of Women Farmers. The total value of the support provided amounts to USD 69,000.
The initiative is part of a USD 1 million programme designed to support national and municipal authorities and local communities in addressing the pandemic emergency. It is funded by the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and implemented jointly by UNDP, UNICEF and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The programme focuses on three main target groups: healthcare workers, civil servants and the vulnerable elderly – categories that are all dominated by women. Earlier this year, UNDP delivered aid to three municipal shelters in Tbilisi, Rustavi and Samtredia that together house 200 homeless and elderly people.
The initiative was managed under an ongoing USD 4 million Danish-funded local development programme that UNDP is implementing in partnership with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure.