The SDC supports rural economic development in the South Caucasus, in particular to ensure sustainable incomes for poor farmers. The Georgian province of Kvemo Kartli is a region with great potential.
Subsistence agriculture faces many obstacles in the region
Although it is the biggest cattle-producing region in Georgia and is located close to the country's capital Tbilisi, Kvemo Kartli remains a subsistence farming region where farmers face big obstacles to be able to make a real economic success out of their land and livestock. Yields of both milk and meat are lower than average because farmers have little access to veterinary services and information about animal feed. An almost complete lack of modern mechanised farming equipment hampers the farmers' work. Market access is impeded by a lack of transparency and poor links between producers and wholesalers. Georgian farmers also lack bargaining power, as they have little knowledge of current market prices. Plus, they often have to travel to urban centres to pay their utility bills, and the absence of public and private transport options means they waste precious time that could be better spent farming.
Better production thanks to healthy animals and modern farming methods
The project aims to assist the modernisation of farming in Kvemo Kartli and reduce poverty in the region. The SDC is working on several fronts to help establish stable business links and improve the quality and quantity of the meat, milk and cheese produced. In particular, it helps local vets to develop their skills and encourages them to meet with farmers to share their knowledge and urge them to introduce measures such as vaccination. To run a modern farm, the farmers need tools, equipment and farm machinery. They also need to be able to access financial services more easily. The SDC is therefore taking steps to improve access to these various factors. Quality information and a stable market are also key to SDC operations in the region of Kvemo Kartli. The SDC first informs local farmers of the regulations in force (food safety, certification, etc.) to enable them to adapt their production processes. Second, it works to forge strong links between producers, suppliers and wholesalers to establish a sustainable, fair market, in particular by advising farmers. Finally, the SDC is studying opportunities and potential markets for sheep-farming products.
Well-informed for better market access
By autumn 2014, some 4,000 farming families will have directly or indirectly benefited from the project through improved services and market access. They will also be more knowledgeable about best practices in animal health and feed.
The farmers will establish mutually beneficial links with agricultural suppliers, market traders and processors, ensuring good quality produce for which there is a sustainable market. The farmers are expected to see an average annual increase of 10 percent in their income from livestock production.