International Experts Visit Georgia to Explore Country’s Rural Life

Dozens of agricultural experts from various countries of the Europe and Caucasus region, as well as representatives of media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) recently visited two regions of Georgia to explore entrepreneurship in rural areas of the country.

At the beginning of the two-day trip, the group of foreign experts visited the Kakheti region, considered the birthplace of Georgian wine, where they discovered the Georgian traditional winemaking techniques and met with local farmers to discuss the prospects for agriculture production in the region.

In regions where winemaking is a main source of income, farmers are dependent on development of the sector. Dozens of local farmers from Gurjaani, one of the municipalities of Kakheti, gathered at the community center to meet with the guests and discuss current problems and rural development prospects.

Georgia farmer Ivane Basilashvili believes that following collapse of the Soviet Union, the county’s agro-economy is under transition. As he told the represented guests, Georgian farmers are struggling to escape the Soviet practice and approaches, when everything was based on collective wealth, and when private property did not exist.

“We lived in Soviet times and most people, especially farmers, still have an ingrained soviet mentality and agro-education. For us, it’s difficult to realise that now we live in capitalism where private property and private businesses are run by private persons. We need time to change our attitude and not to look to the government to give subsidies or assistance. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the government shouldn’t make an effort to promote agriculture in the country,” Basilashvili told GEORGIA TODAY.

After Kakheti, the travelling workshop headed to a remote area of the Bolnisi municipality in the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia. The international team visited milk producing livestock ‘New Style’ and cheese factory ‘Cheese Hut’. Both enterprises have been in operation since 2015 and were established under the government funded ‘Preferential Agro Credit’ project.

Goran Soster, a coordinator of ‘PREPARE: Partnership for Rural Europe,’ emphasized that the main goal of traveling through the rural parts of Georgia was to exchange knowledge with local farmers, explore local agro businesses and to help people improve the quality of rural life in Georgia.

“When we come to foreign countries like Georgia, we usually say we are here to support building the bridge between governmental and non-governmental sides of rural areas. It has yielded good results to date and we are quite sure in the long term it will show results in Georgia,” Soster said.

The travelling workshop was organized by the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and international association ‘PREPARE: Partnership for Rural Europe’ under the cross-border economic development project.

Tamar Svanidze

10 November 2016 19:45