CENN to Set Up Modern Strawberry Greenhouse in Zendidi Village within Keda Leader Project

Within the framework of the project ‘Optimizing the Potential of Local Assets for Rural Development of Keda Municipality,’ CENN, a non-governmental organization working to protect the environment by fostering sustainable development, is to set up a modern strawberry greenhouse in the village of Zendidi in the Adjara region of Georgia.

The project beneficiary is a local resident, Jumber Bezhanidze, whose project envisages the establishment of a modern strawberry greenhouse with a system of strawberry cultivation on multi-story shelves. The system will enable a longer vegetation period and will increase production. Two men and one woman will be employed to run the project.

The project budget is 18,000 GEL, and the European Union is funding 14,400 GEL.

The objectives of the ‘Optimizing the Potential of Local Assets for Rural Development of Keda Municipality’ project are to diversify local economic activities, foster investment, and empower competitive agricultural and environmental practices in Keda Municipality via bottoms-up strategic planning of rural development. The priority of the project is to increase Keda Municipality’s development potential and make optimal use of local resources.

The project is being implemented by CENN in a partnership with the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Institute of Democracy (IOD) and Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning (ÖIR).

The project is supported by the European Union, which supports agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Program. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia. The first phase of ENPARD in Georgia focused on developing the potential of agriculture. The second and third phases of ENPARD focus on creating economic opportunities for the rural population that go beyond agricultural activities.

The following activities are carried out within the project:

• Establishment and capacity building of the Keda Local Action Group (LAG), involving AMAGs, and community-based institutions; awareness raising of the EU’s rural development approaches; the institutional building of the Keda LAG, linking and networking with other LAGs nationwide.

• Participatory development of a gender and youth sensitive Keda Rural Development Strategy (RDS); development of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools for implementation of the Keda RDS; approval of the Keda RDS by the relevant state authorities in Adjara.

• Implementation of innovative projects (through sub-grants within the strategy) to foster economic and investment opportunities and inclusive rural growth, and improve the well-being of rural communities (identification of sustainable projects generating new employment opportunities, financing and implementation of innovative projects); participatory development of the Keda Marketing and Communication Strategy; investment in an active media outreach and marketing campaign for Keda; organization of the Keda Business Forum and Keda Rural Festivals; exchange and site visits to promote projects and attract investments; capacity building and promoting opportunities for rural youth (organization of youth camps, support of youth initiatives/projects).

Funded projects

Within the framework of the EU-funded project “Optimising the Potential of Local Assets for Rural Development of Keda Municipality” (Keda LEADER) implemented by CENN, the results of the second grant competition for rural development have been announced.

In the first stage of the second grant competition, 124 applications were submitted, and in the second stage - 53 applications.

The financial-administrative examination, evaluation and selection of applications was carried out jointly by the Grant Commission, CENN, Institute of Democracy, Keda Local Development Team Governing Council. As a result, 22 projects were selected.

The project allocations, according to the priority directions defined by the Keda Municipality Local Development Strategy, are as follows:

• Agriculture - 5

• Diversification of economic activities - 8

• Tourism – 9

GEORGIA TODAY interviewed Project manager - Nino Gaprindashvili, to find out more about the project.

The ‘Keda Leader’ project is being implemented with the direct participation of CENN. Tell us more about CENN's role.

The project aims to diversify local economic activities, attract investment and promote competitive agricultural and environmental practices through participatory, strategic planning of rural development.

The initiative has three main areas:

Formation of the Ridge Local Action Group (LAG) and its institutional strengthening; elaborating a participatory method of rural development strategy for the Keda municipality on gender and youth aspects; and implementation of innovative projects (by sub grants, in accordance with the priorities of the municipality strategy).

Within the project, a Local Action Group (LAG) was formed, bringing together local people, authorities, private and civil sectors. With the participation and efforts of LAG, a local development strategy was prepared. The strategy made it possible to select / finance local projects that create local jobs and income sources, and improve the socio-economic direction and environment of the municipality.

With the active involvement and participation of the Keda LAG, CENN, among other activities, actively works to raise youth awareness and organize green camps within the framework of which youth of the municipality are able to raise awareness of environmental protection, sustainable management of natural resources, and climate change.

What are the expected results after and why was it specifically decided to select Keda Municipality?

Given the potential available, the EU chose Keda as one of the target municipalities. One of the major challenges of our time is the well-being of rural people and the creation of a healthy living environment, and as a result, the reduction of economic inequality between the village and the city, which has become even more important given the growing urbanization.

The village plays an important role in the overall solution of global environmental problems. Amid the current challenges, the demand for the Village of the Future has changed and requires a climate-based and sustainable vision-based approach. It is important to maintain a healthy environment, which is a major asset of rural life.

First of all, it is necessary to empower the local population and ensure its involvement in the decision-making process. Given these issues, our aim is to diversify rural economic activities and create inclusive growth opportunities through the implementation of innovative projects funded in accordance with the priorities of the Keda Rural Development Strategy; project implementation should improve the quality of life in rural areas - through increased diversification of economic activities, sustainable and competitive agricultural practices and climate change and sustainable use of natural resources. The project provides equal access to employment and business opportunities for vulnerable groups of youth, women and society.

One of the projects sponsored by Keda Leader envisages the establishment of a modern strawberry greenhouse. Tell us more about this project.

The project developer is Jumber Bezhanidze and it is being implemented in the village of Zendidi of Keda municipality. The total cost of the project is GEL 18,000, while beneficiary participation is only 20% (GEL 3600).

The project envisages arrangement of a modern strawberry greenhouse over an area of 250 m2, which implies cultivation of crop / strawberry on pyramid pallets, setting up a heating and ventilation system, irrigation system and automatic supply of nutrients (fertilizers). The superiority of such technology is that it is possible to get a maximum amount of harvest in a relatively small area, which is important for small-scale municipalities such as Keda. In addition, such technology can increase or prolong the production period, which means delivery of a strawberry market in early spring, autumn and partially in winter, when the price of strawberries is relatively high.

The promotion and implementation of such projects will promote the popularization of modern agricultural production technologies in Keda Municipality, increase local production volumes, promote employment of the local population and improve farmers' economic conditions.

How are the project beneficiaries selected and how can they be funded?

Beneficiaries are selected on the basis of grant competitions announced within the project.

Detailed requirements for beneficiaries are given in the project grant guideline.

The grant competition is divided into 3 stages:

1. Submission of a grant application, which involves the submission of an idea at the first stage. If the idea is approved, the beneficiary should submit the complete project application with a detailed budget.

2. Interview / monitoring, carried out by Keda Local Development Group Grant Commission, for a detailed study of the projects.

3. Grant approval / contracting, i.e. projects that successfully pass the above two stages will be considered approved.

Currently, 46 funded projects are being implemented in Keda Municipality.

How will the project support the employment of locals?

One of the main goals of the project is to create additional jobs on the ground. That is why, when evaluating projects, special attention is devoted to the employment component.

For instance: about 290 jobs were created within the projects funded by the first and second grant competition.

What further activities are planned within the project?

Currently, the process of accessing grant applications submitted within the framework of the 3rd grant competition is underway for funding, and the development and promotion of various local initiatives is planned, along with organizing festivals, campaigns, training of project beneficiaries and local development group members to strengthen their abilities. In addition, measures are planned to attract additional investment that will contribute to the economic development of the municipality.

The project and the Local Action Group (LAG) will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture of Adjara, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNDP to fund various initiatives in the municipality.

27 January 2020 18:51