With EU financial and technical assistance, as well as training and education on cooperation and agribusiness, small farmers in Georgia are benefitting from economies of scale, cutting their production costs and increasing efficiency.
On November 30 and December 1 2017 in Tbilisi, at a joint closure event the four partners implementing the EU’s ENPARD’s small farmers’ cooperation component – Care, Mercy Corps, Oxfam and People in Need – presented the results of their four-year work in support of EU-funded agricultural cooperatives in Georgia.
The two-day event included the Policy and Strategy Panel Discussions on the first day, and Plenary Presentations and Cooperatives Gallery on the second.
The first day was devoted to panel discussions on the sustainability of agricultural cooperatives, where ISET’s Irakli Kochlamazashvili delivered an opening presentation about the worldwide experience on the sustainability of agricultural cooperatives. It was followed by six different panel discussions, where the implementing partners, government, donors and beneficiary farmers held a fruitful discussion on the key challenges and opportunities agricultural cooperatives face towards achieving sustainability. For more information, please see the presentation slides.
On the second day, the discussion panels covered presentations on the support schemes provided by EU to agricultural cooperatives in Georgia and the results achieved within the first phase of ENPARD programme in 2014-2017. The representatives of the EU, Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency (ACDA), International and local partner organisations, donors and ENPARD beneficiary farmers attended the event.
The conference was officially opened by Nodar Kereselidze, First Deputy Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, and Kaido Sirel, Deputy Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
One of the milestone achievements of ENPARD’s cooperation component was the adoption of the law on agricultural cooperatives and the establishment of the Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency (ACDA) – a key institution under the Ministry of Agriculture that now works towards improving productivity and competitiveness of agricultural cooperatives in Georgia.
With the support of the EU, today around 1,500 cooperatives are registered in Georgia, uniting up to 15,000 farmers. Of these, more than 280 cooperatives received direct EU funding and technical assistance worth over GEL 13 million. With EU financing and grant schemes, ENPARD implementing partners have assisted the cooperatives by purchasing assets, providing intensive technical support via onsite training and expertise, as well as helping in market linkages for purchasing inputs and selling outputs. Around 8000 farmers across Georgia have been trained and improved their skills in farming and business management. Additionally, over 1000 cooperatives have received a total of GEL 6 million in grants through state aid programmes, supported by the EU.
It takes time to see impact in agriculture. Therefore, it is too early to assess full impact, but indicative study results delivered by ISET’s Irakli Kochlamazashvili, show that farmers in EU supported cooperatives have increased their incomes by 27% and profit by 30% on average, and many cooperatives have doubled their employment. Since 2014, the production value per cooperative has also increased by 37% on average. The development trend is also noticeable in the average value of assets used by the cooperatives, which since the beginning of ENPARD in 2014, increased dramatically by 300% per cooperative. The study also shows that women are actively involved at all levels in agricultural cooperatives. In total, 53% of members and/or paid employees are women. Women also take leading managerial positions in cooperatives, out of all surveyed cooperatives 21% of management board members are women. This research is done by ISET in cooperation with the ENPARD implementer organizations: CARE, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, PIN and UNDP. For more information, please see the following documents attached: ENPARD Cooperatives Survey Results and Key Findings of the Survey.
ISET’s Nino Kakulia delivered a presentation on the research results about the Size and Sector Effects in the Performance of Agricultural Cooperatives on the example of ENPARD-supported cooperatives in Georgia. The results showed that the small cooperatives (by assets and number of members) enjoy better efficiency and profitability, but there is room for enlargement to benefit from economies of scale. This later is already working in terms of some service cooperatives, like hazelnut and potato, where large cooperatives have better efficiency and profitability results. For more information, please see the presentation slides.
In parallel with the plenary sessions, EU supported cooperatives gallery was organized where participants could observe the programme’s results on the level of each beneficiary cooperative. The guests had an opportunity to interact with beneficiary farmers and become familiar with their products and services.
The EU supports agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. Implemented in 2013 with a total budget of EUR 102 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia. The first phase of ENPARD in Georgia focused on developing the potential of agriculture. The second phase of ENPARD focuses on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. The next phases will continue strengthening the agriculture sector, and also focus on food safety and quality standards and further development of the rural development model.