Representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Agro Art and farmers from different regions of Georgia visited a potato and fodder beet demonstration plot in the village of Artsevani, Tsalka. The field day was organized in the framework of the EU funded “AFD-ENPARD Programme for access to agricultural finance for small scale semi-commercial farms and cooperatives” (FinExCoop Georgia) and aimed to introduce certified experimental high quality seeds for potatoes and for fodder beets to Georgian farmers.
FinExCoop has a mandate to develop technical assistance to farmers and is implementing a test, train and transfer strategy. It tests in Georgian pilot experimental platforms new agricultural inputs and equipment provided by leading international technological partners and their local representatives. It trains extensionists and innovative farmers in their use. And it transfers through awareness-raising activities the best piloted results to a large array of farmers, in particular through demonstration days.
In the case of the Artsevani pilot, the local farmer harvested 30 tons per ha of four types of potato seeds, which is triple than the regional average (11 tons per ha in Kvemo Kartli in 2019 according to Geostats), even though the farmer deliberately stopped their growth by cutting stems and irrigation in September to keep tubers small for further seeding. For the five varieties of fodder beets, yields are around 80 tons per ha which is triple than the regional average (according to Kvemo Kartli farmers. No official statistics could be found on Geostats) and results very much impressed local farmers. These farmers are expected to dedicate next year part of their fields, including gardens, to these new varieties which are very productive and which do not require heavy equipment to be cultivated and harvested as it is the case for fodder maize for silage.
FinExCoop Georgia Team Leader, Christophe Cordonnier underlined the importance of demo plots in Georgia and stated: “With experimental work and demo plots, the project is able to show local farmers and farmers from other regions the best practices of the European countries. Despite the harsh conditions of the global pandemic, FinExCoop project team, following all health and safety regulations, travelled to the regions and villages to deliver seeds to the farmers.”
Georges Dehoux, Programme Manager for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Safety at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia informed the participants about the EU support to Georgia’s agriculture sector. Mr. Dehoux stressed the importance of disseminating the lessons learned from this demonstration through increased farmers’ organizations and MEPA ICCs. Mr Dehoux acknowledged the quality of cooperation with partner organizations in the development of demonstration plots, such as FAO and AFD.
Javier Sanz Alvarez, Programme Coordinator, Policy Projects in Agriculture and Rural Development for FAO in Georgia, updated the audience about FAO’s mission in Georgia and in that specific region. He also explained the work FAO is doing in the fields of potato production and supported the idea of working together to increase output for the farmers.
Deputy Team Leader, Irakli Kherodinashvili and farmer Murtaz Tsulukidze summarized the day and introduced to the audience the working process under the COVID-19 pandemic, successful yields they received and the need for further cooperation. At the end of the day, the participants visit demonstration plots, actual fields of potatoes and fodder beets.
The project “AFD-ENPARD Programme for access to agricultural finance for small scale semi-commercial farms and cooperatives” is funded by the EU as part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), and by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). It is implemented by Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in partnership with Mercy Corps, Rural Development for Future Georgia (RDFG) and Chambre Agriculture de Loiret. This 4-year project, with a total budget of EUR 4 million, aims at improving access to agricultural finance for small-scale commercial farms and cooperatives in Georgia. This project is part of a global program aiming at improving financial inclusiveness and access to market for small-scale commercial farmers. The first component was financed by Proparco, AFD’s subsidiary dedicated to the private sector, through agro-credit lines extended to two major Georgian financial institutions.
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to provide economic opportunities in rural areas and reduce poverty in Georgia. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.
Tinatin Chulukhadze, FinExCoop Georgia, 599-201555, email@example.com