As Georgia strives for EU membership, agriculture and rural development are among the areas where institutional reform will drive the country forward. The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) assist Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and its Rural Development Agency to deliver on needed reforms and partner with relevant institutions in the EU Member States, including Latvia and Estonia.
With their vast experience in agricultural and rural development, the Baltic countries can provide the expertise needed to align Georgia’s institutional, legal and administrative systems with the EU Common Agricultural Policy, European legislation that paves the way for fair and green rural development and seeks to ensure a sustainable future for farmers and rural communities. Its key areas are focused on fostering competitive agriculture and forestry, sustainable management of natural resources, climate action, rural employment, and balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities.
Government officials from three countries discussed this far-reaching cooperation on 27 June – 2 July when representatives of Georgia’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture visited Estonia and Latvia. During the visit, Georgia’s Rural Development Agency and Latvia’s Rural Support Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding to reinforce their partnership and lay the ground for joint initiatives.
“Georgia has moved a long way in the last decade by endorsing rural development programs, reforming institutional frameworks and piloting rural development approaches, such as LEADER and Community-Led Local Development. Partnership with Estonia and Latvia will help accelerate these reforms, align Georgia’s rural development policies with the European legislation, and create new opportunities for rural communities,” said George Khanishvili, First Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.
“The European Union assists Georgia to reform and modernize its rural development. Institutional and policy reforms create a solid ground for practical measures to keep rural economies alive, promote green growth and ensure prosperity for rural communities,” said Ketevan Khutsishvili, Programme Manager for Rural Development, Civil Protection and Crisis Management of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
“In Georgia, where over 40% of the population live outside the big cities, sustainable rural development has a decisive role in eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and addressing environmental threats. Our goal is to ensure that rural communities receive the much-needed attention from decision-makers, the private sector, and educational and academic institutions to build vibrant rural economies that work for them and their country,” UNDP Resident Representative Nick Beresford said.
The EU and UNDP support for rural development in Georgia draws on the EUR179.5 million EU-funded European Neighborhood Program for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) implemented since 2013. More information is available on the website: https://eu4georgia.eu/enpard