The project’s primary objective is to help small-scale producers in the regions of Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Adjara in southern Georgia to increase their productivity and, consequently, their income. This involves carrying out work at various levels of the production chain to ensure better interface with small-scale producers. Although the project entails a number of activities related to producing honey and lamb, it mainly focuses on the meat and dairy sectors.
The project collaborates with the various market players in order to create opportunities for small-scale producers. Firstly, it works with veterinary surgeons, farm input suppliers and other service providers to encourage them to provide small-scale producers with affordable services. This, along with artificial insemination, will enable farmers to increase the productivity of their livestock. Secondly, the project forges links between producers, processing companies and traders so that farmers have access to stable market outlets. Special consideration is also given to the inclusion of women in economic activities.
Better informed farmers
In addition, the project ensures that farmers receive the information they need, e.g. in terms of rearing techniques, existing regulations such as hygiene requirements, or their rights. For example, it supported a newspaper and a television programme that disseminated advice on livestock farming and information about innovative practices. Information sharing among farmers is encouraged as well.
Support from local authorities
The project team also liaises with local authorities in order to impress upon them how important it is not only to support small-scale producers at local level, but to safeguard their interests at regional and national level too. In particular, support from local authorities includes drawing up preventive measures and action plans in the event of inclement weather – a frequent occurrence in the region. For example, mudslides often result in blocked roads – and prevent many farmers from getting to markets to sell their produce. It is therefore important that the authorities are able to respond rapidly and efficiently in the event of bad weather.
Achievements so far
Since its inception in 2008, the project has been a tremendous success. By the end of August 2014, it had directly or indirectly benefited over one million people. By establishing ties between producers, processing companies and service providers, the project has not only provided more than 250,000 small-scale producers with better market access but also given them the opportunity, for example, to use veterinary services, artificial insemination facilities and good-quality fodder, rent agricultural machinery and obtain information about modern rearing practices – while increasing their income by around 20% as a result. What is more, these activities have generated the equivalent of 247 full-time jobs along the entire value chain.
The project has also inspired others to follow suit – with 30 or so service providers, including veterinary pharmacies, bull farmers and agricultural machinery dealers, now offering assistance to small-scale producers along the same lines.