Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support rural entrepreneurs across Georgia to stay in business amidst the pandemic crisis and benefit local communities by boosting the rural economy, creating sustainable jobs, improving the management of natural resources and promoting climate action.

To achieve these goals, the EU and UNDP launched a GEL 9 million grants programme in 2020, working in partnership with the Rural Development Agency (RDA) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA). Thirty-one business projects worth GEL 3.4 million have been set in motion since May 2020 in eight municipalities – Akhalkalaki, Borjomi, Dedoplistskaro, Kazbegi, Keda, Khulo, Lagodekhi and Tetritskaro. The grants programme will be implemented until the end of 2022 while its current round will continue through April 2021, helping rural entrepreneurs to run their businesses sustainably.

The positive impact of this support was visible on 1 April when the RDA Director Ilia Tamarashvili, Kvemo Kartli Governor Shota Rekhviashvili, the Programme Manager for Rural Development, Civil Emergencies and Crisis Management at the EU Delegation to Georgia Ketevan Khutsishvili and the Acting Head of UNDP Anna Chernyshova visited the village of Orbeti in the Tetritskaro Municipality to see how solar energy helps a local company “Bioras” to make a profit and protect biodiversity.

With GEL 30,000 in grant funding from the EU, UNDP and RDA, “Bioras” owner Giorgi Pkhakadze installed 60 solar panels and 24 batteries at his agriculture plot to supply a walnut garden and a vegetable greenhouse with renewable energy. This helped the company reduce electricity costs and save a stripe of the local forest, which was planned to be cut down to rehabilitate an outdated power line.

“The EU-supported grants programme aims to protect livelihoods threatened by lockdowns,” said Programme Manager for Rural Development, Civil Emergencies and Crisis Management at the EU Delegation to Georgia Ketevan Khutsishvili. “I am especially glad that our support helps introduce sustainable approaches to agriculture and promote the use of renewable energy.”

“Energy efficiency and green solutions are in the centre of our grants programme for rural businesses,” said UNDP Acting Head Anna Chernyshova. “We have a chance to promote green alternatives in rural areas that will benefit both people and the planet.”

“One of the main priorities of the Rural Development Agency is to support the development of non-agricultural activities in rural areas. We are implementing the Rural Development Program with the EU and UNDP support.  As energy efficiency is one of the main directions of this programme, “Bioras” used this assistance to develop a solar power system, an alternative energy source which helped to better manage their enterprise."  said the RDA Director Ilia Tamarashvili.

The EU and UNDP are long-term supporters of rural development in Georgia. More than GEL 600 million (EUR 179.5 million) in EU assistance has been allocated to Georgia under the ENPARD programme for 2013-2022. This support is designed to improve agricultural productivity, refine rural development policies and create new economic opportunities for rural communities, both in agriculture and outside of it. In parallel to UNDP’s work in rural development, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working with the EU and MEPA to operate a grants programme to support farm businesses and improve food security. More information about ENPARD is available at www.enpard.ge

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