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ENPARD launches new pilot project in Lagodekhi

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, November 19
A new pilot project for rural development in Lagodekhi under the European Union (EU) funded European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) was presented on 12 November 2015.

The Lagodekhi pilot project is being implemented by the international humanitarian Non-governmental Organization (NGO) CARE, in partnership with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia and the ETEA Foundation, a rural development organization from Andalusia.

CARE project manager Juba Maruashvili said that with this new approach, central government should not interfere in local affairs.

“We have more than 200 potential members for Local Action Groups (LAGs). This is the business of local government and local people, because they know better about their own needs. Our work on community mobilization is already completed; we are now working on the Development Strategy,” stated Murashvili.

According to the First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nodar Kereselidze, leading directions in Lagodekhi are tourism and agriculture. Kereselidze opened the floor underlining the importance of the rural development projects for the development of the country, as well as in the framework of EU-Georgia cooperation.

“With the signing of the Association Agreement, Georgia accepted responsibility for the development of its rural areas. The EU helps our country to meet all the required standards and uses ENPARD for this. ENPARD on its own has the best approach to the issues in Georgia,” stated Kereselidze.

Kaido Sirel, the Head of Operations at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, has addressed the participants of the event and highlighted the EU's support for Rural Development in Georgia.

Kakha Jamburia, the Governor of Lagodekhi, discussed his expectations and concerns regarding rural development in the region.

“With this project, not only will rural environment be improved, but local businesses will also benefit. This project imparts basic knowledge which these people use later in future developments. This region has huge potential, if it will be used in the right way,” stated Jamburia.

The presentation complements the recently-held launching ceremony in the municipality of Stepantsminda, (Mtskheta-Mtianeti region) wherein the Lagodekhi project was presented along with two other pilot projects in Borjomi and Kazbegi. The projects received ˆ3 million in financial support from the EU, and focus on the creation of Local Action Groups with representatives from local authorities, the private sector and civil society for the elaboration and implementation of local development strategies. The implementation of the projects is facilitated by international NGOs with recognized experience in rural areas of Georgia, such as CARE-Austria (Lagodekhi), People in Need-Czech Republic (Kazbegi) and Mercy Corps-Scotland (Borjomi).

At the present, Georgia is benefitting from ˆ52 million in support of agriculture and rural development through the EU-funded ENPARD program.

The rural development approach recognizes the unique features of each territory and how communities and local authorities can benefit from capacity building and support to identify and implement their own development strategies. On this basis, EU support to rural development over the next years will be expanded to other regions, helping Georgia establish a successful rural development policy following the best practices from across Europe. The EU supports empowering the ownership of local development processes in rural areas of Georgia, improving capacities and providing resources and incentives for better rural services and jobs in a variety of activities related to agriculture, eco-tourism and other rural businesses.