EU invests 26 mil GEL for 1,500 cooperatives in Georgia
Wednesday, December 6(TBILISI) -- Small farmers in Georgia are benefitting from economies of scale, cutting their production costs and increasing efficiency, finds the latest Annual Cooperative Survey.
Today, around 1,500 cooperatives are registered in Georgia, uniting up to 15,000 farmers. Of these, more than 280 cooperatives received direct EU funding and technical assistance worth over 13 million GEL.
About 8,000 farmers across Georgia have been trained and improved their skills in farming and business management.
Additionally, over 1,000 cooperatives have received a total of 6 million GEL in grants through state aid programs supported by the EU.
Indicative studies show that farmers in EU-supported cooperatives have increased their incomes by 27 percent and profit by 30 percent on average, and many cooperatives have doubled their employment.
Since 2014, the production value per cooperative has also increased by 37 percent on average.
The study also shows that women are actively involved at all levels in agricultural cooperatives.
In total, 53 percent of members and/or paid employees are women. Women also take leading managerial positions in cooperatives, out of all surveyed cooperatives 21 percent of management board members are women.
This is the brief summary of the four-year work of four partners - Care, Mercy Corps, Oxfam and People in Need - which have been implemented the EU’s ENPARD’s small farmers’ cooperation component in Georgia between 2014-2017.
The Annual Cooperative Survey, which inquired 281 cooperatives and describes the development of EU-supported cooperatives in Georgia, says that roughly 26 million GEL was invested in those cooperatives during last four years.
Moreover, the EU has provided instrumental support in increasing the cooperatives’ capacity in advocacy. The EU has helped to strengthen institutional capacity of Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA) and supported the Government to establish 59 Information and Consultation Centers across the country to provide free advice and training to rural communities on modern farming practices. To date, over 250,000 farmers have benefitted from the services of these centers.
One of the milestone achievements of ENPARD’s cooperation component was the adoption of the law on agricultural cooperatives and the establishment of the Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency – a key institution under the Ministry of Agriculture that now works towards improving productivity and competitiveness of agricultural cooperatives in Georgia.
The EU supports agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD program implemented in 2013 with a total budget of ˆ102 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia.
*This article first appeared on Agenda.ge. The figures and information contained above are the sole property of the author and of the original aforementioned publisher.