“Tea Route” in Guria – updated infrastructure encourages local population to develop businesses
Davit Teniashvili, a resident of Bakhvi village in Ozurgeti, started cultivating tea 25 years ago. Since then, he has gone through various stages of development, planted large-scale plantations in the village, started producing different types of tea, and developed into the agro-tourism direction as well.
Later, the ambition arose to expand further – if there is a “Wine Route” in Kakheti, why should not there be a “Tea Route” in Guria, the locals thought. The initiative was realized – the “Tea Route” was created, but the road itself was not in place.
“Foreign guests often visited us, but the road was in such a condition that made the movement very difficult, and this was a huge problem. The road was very bad, and the Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PIRDP), funded by the European Union, helped us a lot in this, as a result of which we have a one-kilometer section in perfect condition now”, Davit Teniashvili notes, and adds that it was the rehabilitation of this road that gave him the incentive to start a new production.
“This is going to be a tea and dry fruit processing plant that will employ 60 people in this small village. The support of the European Union is very important. It is not only up to the financial strengthening, but also to secure people’s retention in place and to create opportunities for entrepreneurship”, the entrepreneur explains.
After the rehabilitation of the road, the small district of Bakhvi village became economically stronger – greenhouse farms and guesthouses were established. Gabriel Teniashvili, actively working in the field of agrotourism, also came up with the idea of opening a hotel.
“We offer guests an introduction in the demo plot, and we tell them about the history of tea, wearing traditional Gurian straw-mat hats and holding bamboo baskets, as we were used to pick tea in the plantations in the past. We have also set up a tasting point”, tells Gabriel and explains that wherever there is a road, the economy starts developing, the awareness of the region increases and the population has more opportunities offered.