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European Union Supports Study Trips on Best Practices in Rural Development

The European Union continues supporting a series of study tours for representatives of local governance, business and civil society to share experience of the Local Action Groups (LAGs) that work to engage local residents in rural development.

The first study tour in Lagodekhi, in December 2016, was followed by the second event in Kazbegi on February 1 and 2, 2017. The Kazbegi study tour involved over 30 participants from different regions of Georgia and was attended by Nodar Kereselidze, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, and representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia.

The study tour took place in the framework of the European Union’s Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). It was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, in cooperation with the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and Czech organization “People in Need.”

The study tour participants met with representatives of Kazbegi Local Action Group (LAG) and the Head of Kazbegi Municipality, and received information about the ongoing initiatives in the field of rural economy and social issues.

The Kazbegi LAG was established in February 2016 with assistance from the European Union in cooperation with the organization “People in Need”, Biological Farming Association “Elkana” and Czech National Network of Local Action Groups (NNLAG). The Kazbegi LAG lists up to 140 members and takes active part in municipal life. EU has supported establishment of LAGs in Lagodekhi and Borjomi municipalities as well. This year, in the framework of ENPARD, LAGs will also be established in other five municipalities – Dedoplistkaro, Akhalkalaki, Tetritskaro, Keda and Khulo.

Local Actions Groups (LAGs) is a common practice in the European countries and an important feature of the EU approach to rural development – LEADER, which encourages the empowerment and involvement of local representatives in decision-making.

The European Union (EU) closely works with the Georgian Government, local authorities, national and international partners to introduce the European best practice in rural development and promote civic engagement in this field.

A series of study tours to the pilot LAG sites is part of this effort. The initiative is also in line with the Rural Development Strategy of Georgia adopted by the Government in December 2016.

The EU is supporting rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 102 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty. The first phase of ENPARD in Georgia focused on developing the potential of agriculture. The second phase focuses on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge