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Promoting Youth in Agriculture: REAP Announces Grant Winners

On January 29th USAID’s Restoring Efficiency in Agricultural Production (REAP) announced a winner in the Mariam Kutelia Research Grant Competition. Mariam Zaldastanishvili, a graduate from the University of St. Andrew, Scotland, claimed the prize.

Zaldastanishvili began working with REAP in October 2015 assisting the organization’s Grants Procurement Specialist. Her research was dedicated to ‘an empirical study of the relationship between the availability of agriculture-related information and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) among rural farmers in Georgia.’

“It has been 4 months since I started my internship in the REAP project. I was very pleased to hear about the Mariam Kutelia Research Grant opportunity, as I thought this research would greatly contribute to my growth as a professional,” the award winner told GEORGIA TODAY.

Zaldastanishvili is very thankful for the opportunity she was given to carry out this research assigned. “This will definitely be a highlight to my internship experience, which is and has been exceptional, as I got to learn so much and enjoy myself as a part of a wonderful team,” she said.

Further, the young and motivated Zaldastanishvili said she considers this grant opportunity a very unique way of honoring the memory of Mariam Kutelia, a REAP intern whose life was claimed by the tragic flood in Tbilisi in June 2015.

Choosing her research topic, Zaldastanishvili relied on her early and current academic and professional preferences, focusing on human-technology interaction she had previously learned as part of her university research.

After consulting REAP staff, Zaldastanishvili decided to look at the relationship between the availability of agriculture-related information and the usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) among the rural farmers in Georgia. “With the emergence of the digital age, technologies are becoming a primary means of communication and information. However, rural areas are usually characterized with low literacy in technologies, especially in developing countries like Georgia,’ Zaldastanishvili told GEORGIA TODAY, adding, “my research findings are aimed at creating a general outlook on the availability of agriculture-related information and the role of ICT for the rural farmers, which I hope can contribute to the issue of keeping the farmers informed on topics of interest to them.”

The grant competition final also revealed second place winners, Ana Kopashvili and Ketevan Mikeladze, who will be part of an internship program offered by the International School of Economics (ISET) at Tbilisi State University (TSU), and third place students, Anano Kipiani and Ekaterine lekishvili, who will assist the USAID/ International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN) in a study on women’s attitudes toward gender equality in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions.

USAID’s Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production offers an innovation for Georgian youngsters interested in the sphere of agriculture. The US-funded organization launched the substantive internship program, named the Mariam Kutelia Intern Program in November last year.

The organization invites applications for intern positions every six months, where students from different universities are given the opportunity to work in various fields that support REAP’s implementation, including administration and finance, monitoring and evaluation, environment, and access to finance and technical assistance.

Zviad Adzinbaia

04 February 2016 21:18