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Local Action Groups Attended LINC Conference in Finland

On 11-15 June 2018, representatives of EU’s partner organisations – Mercy Corps, CARE and People in Need – implementing the EU-funded ENPARD project “Strengthening Rural Development Models in Georgia” and the members of EU-supported Borjomi, Lagodekhi and Kazbegi Local Action Groups (LAGs) participated in Leader Inspired Network Community, LINC Conference in Finland.

LINC is a European Leader conference which combines European exchange of experience with sport events and European culinary. It is an initiative from LAGs and National Network Units for rural development in Austria, Germany, Estonia and Finland. The conference aimed to present the results and innovative methods achieved using the European LEADER approach to rural development, exchange the professional experience of representatives of the European LEADER areas and establish links for international cooperation.

LINC 2018 Conference opened  with a gathering in Rauma city and traditional parade led by a local youth orchestra. On the next day, the conference participants visited the ongoing  projects of Finnish LAGs and the best achievements within the study tours.

In the framework of the conference “European Network for Rural Development” (ENRD) organized a cooperation corner for the participants to discuss and develop project ideas for future cooperation.

The event participants had an opportunity to be taken to the traditional Finnish sailing boats heading to the island of Katanpaa and to participate in sports activities and interactive games.

The visit was quite fruitful for the Georgian delegation: as a result of the meetings and active communication, LAGs of Latvia, Poland and Estonia were interested in cooperation with Georgian LAGs. The members of the Georgian delegation took part in the events organized within the LINC conference. On the one hand, they introduced their achievements and lessons learned during the implementation rural development project in Georgia to the representatives of European countries and on the other hand, they received information about the experience of European LAGs.

“Local Action Groups exist and successfully operate in EU member countries for many years. For me, as a citizen of the country where the process has begun only three years ago, it was important to learn about the European LAGs’ successes, challenges and lessons learnt while implementing the LEADER approach. Attending the LINC 2018 conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet with the representatives of different countries and learn about their projects and related activities. The professional experience shared during the conference is of valuable help for our future work while the linkages established at LINC 2018 are essential for international networking “- said Borjomi LAG Chairperson, Maka Gongadze.

The EU-funded ENPARD project “Strengthening Rural Development Models in Georgia” is implemented by EU partner organisations Mercy Corps, CARE and People in Need in Borjomi, Lagodekhi and Kazbegi municipalities. The project aims to contribute to poverty reduction and improved employment and living conditions in rural areas of Georgia. Through the establishment of a model of participation and cooperation in local development that takes into account the European experience, the project helps foster the expansion of non-farm rural enterprises as well as the modernization of the agricultural sector to boost its income generating capacity.

The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through the ENPARD programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 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