On May 27, 2010, in the villages of Ergneti and Plavi, tractors, agriculture machinery and other agriculture materials were handed over to farmer groups within frameworks of project called “Enhancing Rural Livelihoods in the Adjacent Area (ERLA).”
The handover ceremony was attended by Acting Governor of Shida Kartli Giorgi Avaliani, Country Director of CARE International in the Caucasus Jonathan Puddifoot, Head of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Gori Field Office Marin Din Kajdomcaj, Head of Agriculture Technology Department at the Ministry of Agriculture Omar Tedoradze, senior officials from Shida Kartli local municipality, and media representatives.
The donation is granted to farmer groups in 10 villages of the adjacent area: Akhalubani, Jariasheni, Kvarkheti, Plavi, Pkhvenisi, Bershueti, Ergneti, Khurvaleti, Kveshi and Lower Khviti. The farmers will receive 35 items in total: tractors, ploughs, mowing-machines, garden sprayers, frezes, blade straw smashing machines (Mulch) etc. The total worth is approximately 210 000 GEL and 160 households will benefit of it.
“In the aftermath of the August 2008 war most part of the agriculture equipment was stolen or simply damaged, and people were left without much-needed machinery to cultivate land. Since agriculture is a key source of income for most of the population in the adjacent area, this donation is likely to bring significant economic benefits to the villages,” said Giorgi Badrishvili, ERLA Program Manager at CARE International in the Caucasus.
“It is obvious that people want to stay here in their houses and we have to help them, but not with providing assistance only but providing assistance that will move them away form our assistance, and make them to gain their own money. Only like that they can become able to live there in better quality,” said Marin Din Kajdomcaj, Head of UNHCR Gori Field Office. “This is the first priority for people, government and for us as well. We are looking forward for the initiatives from the people what they can do by themselves and for what they would need a little bit of our assistance.”
“I would like to first of all thank UNHCR for funding this program and as always thanks to Georgian government for helping to facilitate the things fur us. Also thanks to the farmer group here who agreed to come together and work on this issue and really start to provide machinery services to hundreds of families in this region, “ said Jonathan Puddifoot, Cuntry Director of CARE International in Caucasus. “I think we need to have a better law on farmer policies; we need to have more strategies around the agriculture to enable farmers to become more economically viable and more active.”
Girogi Avaliani, Acting Governor of Shida Kartli Region noted: “We do hope that there will be more this kind of projects in future, and other machinery techniques will be handed to population.”
“This is better than a one-time assistance because now people who get those tractors will be able to use them to help neighbors and earn money in such way,” added Omar Tedoradze, Head of Agriculture Technology Department at Ministry of Agriculture.
“It is hoped that these people who were displaced during the August 2008 conflict will finally be able to reintegrate in the Georgian society and that their plight is coming to an end,” noted Peter Nicolaus, the Representative of UNHCR in Georgia.
CARE International in the Caucasus launched the 10-month project ERLA in the middle of January, 2010, and its overall goal is to improve level of self-reliance and livelihoods of 280 households in 20 villages as a result of income generation activities. Implementing partners for this project are CARE, Agrotechno and the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC). Agrotechno works with farmer groups, providing assistance in group consolidation and business plans preparation, while CTC provides consultancy service on business and financial issues. The project is funded by the UNHCR and its total budget is 1,030,000 GEL.