Zrda Sector Focus: Tourism Development
Zrda’s holistic approach to tourism seeks to support regional tourism development through new tourism product development, promoting new tourism destinations and attractions, and raising international quality standards within players in the tourism sector. The primary regions for Zrda’s tourism sector activities are Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo, Pankisi Valley and Tusheti though capacity building of rural guesthouses is a focus across all target regions. In particular, Zrda has partners with the Georgian National Tourism Agency (GNTA) and regional public and private sector stakeholders to promote a regional development model in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo. The model focuses on agro, adventure, and cultural tourism, and seeks to improve stakeholder coordination and cooperation to better position and market these regions as Georgia’s premier tourism destinations.
♦ New Tourism Product Development: Zrda fostered the development of new experiential and indigenous tourism products across communities in Samegrelo, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Tusheti for leading Georgian Tour Operators, helping them explore new destinations and encourage the development and promotion of new marketable products that meet the wide variety of tourist demand across multiple market segments. In addition, Zrda facilitated a series of informational tours to introduce new products to leading Georgian tour operators, and sponsored several workshops and trainings sharing international best practices. As a result of this activity, the leading Georgian tour operators have included the newly discovered sites into their touristic packages to generate up to $2.8 million in sales whereas the local actors - accommodation providers, food industry representatives, farmers, museums and other tourist attractions increased their sales up to $2.7 million. The Zrda-supported activity encouraged industry players to upgrade their services to meet international standards, all aiming to support increased employment in the tourism and hospitality sector of the regions.
♦ Adventure Tourism Product/Routes Development: In line with its adventure tourism development initiatives, Zrda facilitated preparation of 90 wilderness guides and instructors in canyoning, rafting, hiking, trekking, horse-riding and diving, all catering to the variety of experience levels. To strengthen the initiative, Zrda launched a website for all adventure guides trained, certified and equipped within the program support: https://adventours.ge/en. As a complementary activity, Zrda in partnership with GNTA supported the positioning of 42 e-maps of hiking trails on www.wikiloc.com - search engine popular worldwide among adventure lovers. Further to the technical and financial assistance, Zrda united Equestrian guides around The Endurance Riding and Equine Tourism Association and enhanced the association to build its future towards becoming the leading national equestrian tourism organization in its field and represent Georgia in the World Equestrian Tourism Federation (FITE).
♦ Promoting Regional Festivals and Fairs: Zrda views regional festivals and fairs as a platform for businesses, cultural and entertaining activities to engage and benefit local communities and key business actors aimed at maximizing tourism’s contribution to socio-economic growth, job creation and income generation opportunities for local communities and households. As an example, Zrda partnered with local organizations to launch and promote an annual Khachapuri Festival in Rukhi village of Samegrelo, International Festival of Traditional Crafts Workshops in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
♦ Family Friendly Tourism – aims to introduce and adopt family friendly services in hospitality industry that will distinguish accommodation and food sector representatives across all Zrda target regions by offering age-appropriate amenities, catering services and extra-curricular activities to attract families and boost sales.
♦ Digital Marketing and Promotional Tools for Rural Accommodation Providers: Zrda initiated hands-on and interactive trainings on digital marketing for guesthouses and restaurants/cafes in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo, Shida Kartli, Kvemo Kartli, and Akhmeta municipality communities. Training participants were guided through a step-by-step process of joining and marketing their offers on well-known booking engines. As a result of Zrda interventions to-date, up to 500 accommodation providers and over 50 restaurants across its target ABL and minority regions are now registered on Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb.
♦ Training and Capacity Building of Rural Accommodation Providers: Zrda, in partnership with Key Management Solutions (KMS), delivered the American Hotel and Lodging Association Education Institute (AHLAEI) Certificate Training Courses on Hotel Administration for the owners and representatives of small and mid-sized hotels and guesthouses operating in Shida Kartli, Samtkhe-Javakheti, and Samegrelo regions. In total, 90 training attendees gained hands-on knowledge on hotel administration and hospitality management, out of which 60 participants were granted the AHLAEI certificate following demonstration of their competency on the course materials.
♦ Training and Capacity Building of Tour Guides: To respond to the market need for qualified tour guides, Zrda partnered with the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) to work with four different stakeholders - Zugdidi Shota Meskhia State Teaching University, Kachreti VET “Aisi”, Gori VET “Gantiadi”, and Akhaltsikhe VET “Opizari” with an aim to develop and deliver certification training courses for tour guides. Additionally, CTC developed a Job and Competence Framework for Tour Guides and a curriculum for the program based on the numerous interviews and workshops carried out with tour operators, tour guides, sector associations and VETs; and analysis of syllabi offered for similar tour guide training courses across different training organizations. Additionally, the Zrda international expert helped with developing syllabus and training design and conducted a training of trainers (ToT) for potential trainers, assigned by Zrda partner VETs. As a result of the collaborative effort, CTC developed a Training Reader, Case Book and PowerPoint slides for the training course, and organized a ToT for the Zrda partner VET teachers to upgrade their skills and knowledge in delivering the newly developed Tour Guides training course. CTC coordinated the first cycle of the training course for 70 students in all four partner institutions having finally certified 63 guides that will embark on their dream career in the nearest future. As a complementary activity, Zrda provides networking opportunities to create market linkages among course graduates and partner tour operators to explore employment and funding opportunities as well as to promote a viable commercial approach where courses can be sold to interested participants and government stakeholders from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia.
♦ Destination Management Organization (DMO): In 2017, Zrda partnered with the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) and regional public and private sector stakeholders to establish the Samtskhe-Javakheti (SJ) and Samegrelo Destination Management Organizations aimed at promoting a regional tourism development model in both regions. The model focuses on agro-, eco, adventure-, and cultural tourism and seeks to improve stakeholder coordination and cooperation. The DMOs work to collaborate towards, and finally elaborate a multi-stakeholder - public and private sector - approach to support the development of the tourism sector, and related sub-sectors (agro, adventure, cultural, etc.) aimed at supporting regional economic growth and employment in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo. Presently, the DMOs coordinate and consolidate all existing analyses of Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo as tourism destinations as well as diverse strategy documents developed by different donors and development organizations. The DMOs also began the process of conducting a gap analysis of all regional tourism assets and attractions (historical locations, sights, services, products). Looking for new approaches to tourism development, Zrda in partnership with GNTA organized the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo Regional Tourism Development Symposiums that gathered local tourism stakeholders and international experts to identify challenges facing the regional tourism industry and set priorities to better position and market the regions locally and internationally. To replicate best international practices, Zrda partnered with the Romanian non-profit organization, Sibiu County Tourism Association (SCTA), to gain from the experience Romania has acquired in developing its own tourism industry over the last twenty-five years. In October 2017, Zrda invited public and private sector tourism stakeholders from its targeted regions to take part in a study tour in Romania to get first-hand information on Destination Management Organization and successful destination management approaches in Europe, community-led tourism and agri-tourism work to spur the country's rural economy, impacts and challenges To better understand tourism development industry and position Georgia as a unique destination in the region, Zrda arranged a study tour to Czech Republic for Samtskhe Javakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti and Kakheti DMO managers, as well as Kvemo Kartli local government members. Georgian delegation visited numerous touristic sites, such as UNESCO heritage villages, museums, family breweries, agro- touristic farms, and family wineries.Promotional Packages for Destination Management Organization (DMO) Marketing: As a complement to the Designation Management Organizations (DMO) establishment activity and in line with Zrda’s objective to promote Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo destinations at national and foreign tourist markets, Zrda supported the development of regional promotional packages for both regions. The activity was designed to develop a common template for regional promotion that included a well-designed and visually appealing website, essential for modern destination management and would be sustained by the DMOs over the long-term. The template included an online regional catalogue, social media profiles, a promotional video and photo galleries for each region, and e-templates for print media (brochures, catalogues, posters, banners, leaflets, business cards). All materials and online properties were transferred to regional DMO ownership in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo. The activity aims to support regional promotion activities at the selected international trade fairs in key outbound target markets, and this will be the first time that regions of Georgia will have independent promotional stands at an international fair. Along with the promotional and marketing support Zrda provided capacity building activities for Samtskhe-Javakheti Destination Management Organization (DMO) staff through certified job-oriented online training courses in tourism management, leadership and project management as well as fundraising and donor relations management led by Management Academy.
♦ Culinary Book Development – “Meskhuri Tabla” and Kolkhuri Tabla are the first product development initiatives of the regional Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo Destination Management Organizations. The cookbooks comprise old, traditional local recipes, and are available in Georgian and English languages. Georgian Culinary Academy of the Agricultural University voluntarily provided support to Zrda in the process of the book preparation. The books are being sold locally through Biblus book chain.
Zrda is in final stage of issuing two more editions in a series of books that will help to revive the centuries-old traditions of Georgian cuisine from two particular regions. Culinary books will include up to 50 recipes of unique and historic dishes and drinks of Kist and Tush cuisine. Designed to promote both targeted regions locally and internationally, the Cookbook will become a great souvenir for visitors available in Georgian and English languages for sale through the various channels. USAID Zrda continues to partner with local tourism operators to share more of Georgia with the world and to create economic opportunities in communities around the country.
♦ Tourist Information Center Capacity Building: As a part of the tourism sector development, Zrda joined efforts with Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) to develop human and operation capacity of Tourist Information Centers (TICs) operating in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo and Shida Kartli regions through consistent and targeted interventions. The initiative aims to improve the overall performance of TICs and support the relevant staff to provide quality services to the incoming tourists/visitors. To explore and replicate international experience and expertise, Zrda and GNTA engaged an international consultant in tourism development who conducted field visits to all TICs, made the basic assessment and developed operations manual for GNTA and recommendations for improvement for TICs. As a result of Zrda efforts, five Tourism Information Centers were upgraded and equipped according to international standards;
♦ Participation in International Festivals and Fairs: To better position and market tourist attractions of its target regions, Zrda facilitates their participation in the world's largest tourism Industry trade shows. In January 2019, Zrda-supported tour operators participated in the New York Times Travel Show that involves more than 500 exhibitors and includes more than 170 travel destinations. In September 2019, Zrda supported Georgian tour operators and GNTA to participate in Adventure Travel World Summit in Sweden thus opening a window of opportunity for promotion of adventure tourism model in Georgia. In the aftermath of the global health crisis, Zrda worked to contribute to capacity building of local communities and tourism businesses to adapt their services and working procedures to cater to the new protocols developed to guarantee safety and security of tourists and promote their services accordingly at fair and festivals worldwide. Zrda intends to contribute to global promotion of Georgia as safe destination at ITB Berlin 2021.
♦ Tourism MSME Training Needs Assessment and Training Program – In collaboration with GNTA, Zrda supports outreach to and training of tourism MSMEs located in the Zrda target regions to encourage local actors upgrade services to meet international standards and generate more income.
♦ Digital Marketing Development for Guesthouses, Small and Medium Hotels: Zrda, through its contracted service provider, helps guesthouses and small and mid-size hotels to create marketable content to promote their businesses through international booking platforms, websites, social media as well different marketing materials, including brochures and flyers. For provision of subsidized marketing support, Zrda selected those guesthouses and hotels that demonstrated willingness and commitment to cost-share in the development of digital and printed promotional materials.
♦ Museum Capacity Building Program: Zrda is implementing a grant program supporting museums to build their capacity. The activity aims to support both private and public museums for local and international tourist attraction. Within this framework, Zrda also intends to provide technical support to improve business and technical skills through training aimed at developing museums in Zrda target geographical areas, creating multi-functional educational and technologically advanced spaces, and improving museum services and operations to attract more visitors/tourists in order to generate more revenues.
♦ Catering Businesses Capacity Building Program: Zrda is implementing the grant program for catering industry actors to support growth and empowerment of the existing businesses within the project target geographical areas. The Zrda-selected company Gastronaut is leading the process by using online platform and working with Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to develop their business concept designs.
♦ Interactive Book on Kolkheti National Park: The activity aims to create a resource that will enable reader to travel through time, uniting different historical facts as well as myths and legends. It will have a unique way of telling the story covering a variety of scientific fields, such as botany, zoology, archaeology, etc. The book will be animated with augmented reality technology and have semi-documentary, semi-fictional style. The book will be available in both Georgian and English languages, aimed to attract a wide range of readers, both Georgians and foreigners alike. The development of such book will raise awareness of this region in Georgia, promote the Kolkheti National Park as a new and undiscovered touristic destination. The final printed copy of the book will be available in spring 2021.
♦ Rope Park Attraction in Kolkheti National Park: Zrda developed a new tourist product – Rope Park at the Churia Entrance of Kolkheti National Park. The Agency of Protected Areas completed the construction of the fence around the territory in line with all safety measure requirements. In addition, Zrda handed over various items procured for rangers of Churia Entrance of the Kolkheti National Park, in particular: seven full sets of tactical uniforms; professional binoculars with tripod; seven sets of water-resistant walkie talkies; and fishing rods. As a complementary activity, Zrda procured and installed a solar based power generating system at the Ranger’s Hut, which provides renewable energy and supplies the hut with electricity. Zrda plans to provide camping equipment, fishing boats, and one pontoon boat once the procurement is finalized.
♦ Cultural Routes Program: Under the activity aimed at promoting tourism development and improving services in Tusheti, Zrda supports its partner organization - National Agency of Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia to install information boards and direction indicators in 10 selected villages of Tusheti. The Agency is involved in the development process of cultural routes program. Of note, on August 9, 2016 Georgia became the 27th member country of the Enlarged Partial Agreement (EPA) on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe. Under this agreement, member states shall fulfill the obligations at national level. The Ministry of Culture and Sport of Georgia and the Council aim to gather and organize the scattered information about the existing cultural routes that will facilitate development of new cultural routes and increase the interest among international routes. Under its activity, Zrda supports the Agency to promote Tusheti Cultural Route by providing and installing direction indicators and information boards with essential information about petroglyphs reported and marked in Tusheti. These services will also meet the visitors’ needs, improve their navigation around the area and increase their satisfaction. The Zrda-contracted company has already completed installation of information boards in 6 villages: Girevi, Dano, Dartlo, Nakudurta, Tchontio, and Parsma.
♦ Assistance to Tusheti Protected Landscape: USAID/Zrda continues active collaboration with the Tusheti Protected Landscape Administration (TPLA) in order to support institutional empowerment of the administration, increase the community’s involvement and the effectiveness of the projects to be implemented in Tusheti. Within the framework of this activity, Zrda provided TPLA staff with certified job-oriented online training courses in tourism management, leadership and project management as well as fundraising and donor relations management led by Management Academy. As a part of sustainable tourism development activity, Zrda through its contractor company provided the design, delivery and installation of the solar panels and the arrangement of the first in Tusheti 18,5 m3 cold room storage that fully operates on solar energy. Continuous power supply and cold storage facility will support the locals to store dairy products during the tourist season. The contractor company assumes the responsibility to train local staff on how to operate the facility.
♦ Response to COVID-19 Pandemic: As a response to COVID-19 pandemic in tourism sector, in June 2020 USAID/Zrda initiated an activity to give the informational support on the Government’s regulations to Hotels, Guesthouses, Restaurants as well as Guides and Tour Operators. To this end, Zrda in partnership with the Georgian National Tourism Administration developed and printed informational brochures to deliver them to the mentioned facilities by the volunteers. As a follow-up, the USAID Zrda and Georgian National Tourism Administration conducted “Travel in Georgia” information campaign designed for the hospitality businesses operating in the Zrda target municipalities. Within the framework of this activity, the Zrda-selected volunteers conducted door-to-door visits to up to 1,200 tourism businesses (local business operators, hotels/guesthouses, catering businesses, etc.) in the Zrda target municipalities and communities, and distributed brochures on the updated regulations/ recommendations with an aim to support domestic tourism development across the country.
♦ Boutique Holidays in Georgia: USAID/Zrda supports the development of boutique family hotel/home services as part of the ongoing campaign “Boutique Holidays in Georgia” initiated by the non-profit legal entity “Partners for Tourism “. To this end, Zrda selected one house located in the Zrda target region on the basis of competition to transform it into a model - demonstration boutique hotel following all the safety and service standards. By setting up a model house, the project is aiming to demonstrate the final look of the boutique hotel as a new tourist product and encourage small entrepreneurs to improve the quality of their product by introducing a proper standard. As a result of the risk of COVID infection, special attention will be paid to family vacation. As a follow-up activity, it is planned to include boutique hotel in the sales platform of the hotels, as a result of which the houses will be placed on the online platform, with appropriate prices and will be available both for domestic tourists and international.
♦ Culinary Book Development – Kisturi Tabla and Tushuri Tabla: Zrda is in final stage of issuing two more editions in a series of books that will help to revive the centuries-old traditions of Georgian cuisine from two particular regions. Culinary books will include up to 50 recipes of unique and historic dishes and drinks of Kist and Tush cuisine. Designed to promote both targeted regions locally and internationally, the Cookbook will become a great souvenir for visitors available in Georgian and English languages for sale through the various channels. USAID Zrda continues to partner with local tourism operators to share more of Georgia with the world and to create economic opportunities in communities around the country.
Zrda Sector Focus: Agriculture Development
Zrda’s approach to agriculture seeks to support rural households to increase their productivity and incomes from agricultural activities in three priority sectors: vegetables, fruits (berries and orchard fruits), and bee products. Activities focusing on human capital capacity development, promoting access to new and improved production technologies, on-farm training and technical assistance, facilitating market linkages, and improving access to finance help farmers increase yields, improve efficiency, and raise incomes. Zrda furthermore supports capacity building of public and private sector agriculture extension providers and vocational training for market-demanded trade skills that will help rural households diversify their income opportunities and help them become more marketable for employment. Finally, Zrda is working together with farmer organizations, individual and cooperative producers, and wholesale and retail buyers to help improve standards and promote relevant certifications to improve the competitiveness of regional agricultural products on both domestic and international markets.
Zrda Priority Interventions: Zrda supports the development of several value chains including Fruit - berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) and fruit trees (apples, pears, plums, and cherries); Vegetable (broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and lettuce); and Bee Products by introducing modern production techniques. To-date, Zrda helped to establish 128 open-field and 105 greenhouse demonstration plots, as well as 8 beekeeping cooperatives, 29 beekeeping farms, 41 cold storages, 4 fruit and vegetable drying facilities that yield, store and process fruits and vegetables, fruit saplings, vegetable seedlings, berry plants, and honey across Shida Kartli, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo, Kvemo Kartli, and Kakheti (Akhmeta municipality) regions of Georgia.
High Value Fruits, Vegetables, and Berries: Zrda’s primary focus under its agriculture sector work is to promote increased production of high-quality fruits, vegetables, and berries, and assist farmers and other actors in the value chain to access higher value markets. Fruits, vegetables, and berries are appropriate crops for small land plots common to our target communities, and small investments in new technologies can pay enormous gains in terms of household and business incomes. Coupled with this approach is a focus on establishing new standards for the Georgian local market for fruits and vegetables, a so-called “Georgia good agricultural practices (GAP)” certification system that serves as a clear market signal for quality production while balancing compliance requirements with the resource constraints faced by Georgian farmers.
Bee Products: Zrda’s another focus under its agriculture sector work is to promote increased production and quality of diverse bee products for both domestic and export markets. In addition to honey production, Zrda also focuses on bee queen breeding and propagation for domestic and export markets, and royal jelly production. Our work in this value chain is primarily implemented via support to improve management and marketing capacities, alongside the technical competencies of beekeeping cooperatives.
– Greenhouse Production
To-date. Zrda helped to establish 105 greenhouse demonstration plots to produce seedlings and, vegetables, herbs and flowers in Shida Kartli, Kvemo Kartli, Samegrelo, and Kakheti (Akhmeta municipality).
– Berry Nurseries
Zrda launched six commercial Berry Nursery Production/Plant Management and Demonstration Plots across four of its target regions having supplied them with 17,500 high-quality berry plants from certified U.S. suppliers. As an example, in Rukhi village located near the Administrative Boundary Line with the Russian-occupied territory of Abkhazia, Zrda helped Agro Agora Ltd. launch the first commercial Blueberry Nursery in Samegrelo region. To strengthen the initiative, Zrda is also providing ongoing technical assistance support from Georgian and international experts on agronomy and nursery business models. Overall, the Rukhi Blueberry Nursery will be able to produce up to 100,000 new plants for sale annually once operating at full capacity. The activity is a response to local market demand for fresh berries and processed berry products that continue to outpace production.
- Cold Storage Facilities:
Zrda supports farmers in its target communities to establish cold storage facilities thus enabling them to store fruits and vegetables for a longer period of time and sell the crops when market prices are high. Of note, Zrda subsidizes 100 -130 GEL per cubic meter of installed cold storage. Overall, Zrda plans to facilitate the arrangement of 45 cold storages with storing capacity of up to 1,500 tons of fruit and vegetables.
- Drying Facilities:
This value-added activity allows the Zrda beneficiaries to diversify their production and sell the produce at a higher price off-season. Overall, Zrda will facilitate the establishment of 7 drying facilities in the Zrda target communities with the capacity to produce around 700 kg of dried fruits daily.
[yjsgacgroup title="Increasing Production Quantity and Quality:" active="0"]
– Strengthening & Capacity Building of Information and Consultation Centers:
USAID Zrda is improving the capacity of 17 Information and Consultation Centers (ICCs) - Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha, Bolnisi, Marneuli, Akhmeta, Tsalka, Dusheti, Kareli, Gori, Khashuri, Kaspi, Akhaltsikhe, Ninotsminda, Aspindza, Akhalkalaki, Borjomi and Adigeni - through equipping them with field laboratory toolkits. These mobile lab kits enable ICC specialists to assist farmers with hands-on and practical services aimed at identifying problems related to crop nutrition, pests, soil and water salinity, and PH thus helping farmers improve production quality and generate increased income from the sale of their products and services. Through Zrda-supported trainings and manuals for ICC specialists, the ICC experts are providing soil and foliar test to the farmers operating in Zrda targeted regions. To strengthen the initiative, Zrda attracts MASHAV and USAID/Farmer to Farmer (F2F) experts to promote the best international practices and use of modern technologies aimed at boosting yields and improving production quality.
– Private Sector Extension Support to Farm Service Center (FSCs):
Eight private Farm Service Centers (FSCs) equipped with field laboratory testing tools and knowledge on new technologies of crop production developed and provided fee-based consultation packages and field-based laboratory services to farmers across its target regions. Zrda is recruiting students from agricultural vocational centers to work with FSC extensionists, participate in consultation visits at the farmers’ fields and get hands-on experience.
– Mobile Application Agronavti
Zrda and Georgian Farmers’ Association, in partnership with the Georgian Farmers' Distribution Company (GFDC) and the Adjara Hospitality Group, established a mobile match-making platform "Agronavti”. This mobile application charges commission to up to 5,500 of its users on all sales transactions to cover the platform's operations and maintenance costs and ensure its sustainability. GFDC currently collects and distributes a wide variety of Georgian agricultural products to Adjara Hospitality Group hotels and restaurants, including a significant amount of goods produced in the Zrda-target communities. To-date, the value of total sales generated by the company and its farmers living in the Zrda-target areas reached $. In addition, the application provides statistics on agriculture; agricultural digest; post-harvest handling; regional profiles; weather forecast; certification; agricultural insurance and offers/opportunities.
With support from USAID Zrda and Credo Bank, Association Rural Development for Future Georgia launched www.kalo.ge - Enhanced Agriculture Platform to provide agro consultations and agro calendar, online shop and service delivery channel for agriculture products, pesticides and equipment, with an opportunity to distantly fulfill acquisition with Credo Bank’s Online Credit Purchase functionality.
– GeoGAP Certification
As Georgia moves towards increased Euro-Atlantic integration, opportunities for local farmers and agribusiness will grow. However, upgrading production practices in accordance with international standards such as those mandated by the Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU remains a challenge for most Georgian farmers. Attaining international farming standards requires costly investments and the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. Recognizing these obstacles faced by the farmers, the Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA) and the USAID Zrda Activity in Georgia have worked together since 2016 to deliver assistance to agriculture sector actors across the country to improve the quality and competitiveness of Georgian agricultural products. A key component of this joint initiative has focused on assistance to GFA to develop the Georgia Good Agricultural Practices Certification System (GeoGAP). The certification system will help Georgian farmers improve the quality of their products and move towards harmonization with European norms, while increasing local brands’ recognition in the domestic market. The certification system is especially useful in the hospitality sector, as it ensures that local produce meets a standard of quality and food safety. Farmers that achieve GeoGAP standards will be well positioned to supply produce to prominent hotels and restaurants operating in Georgia. Having recently recognized the GeoGap standard, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia is now actively promoting the certification system among high value domestic market buyers, such as the Adjara Hotel Group. Currently GFA, the Adjara Group, and the Georgian Farmers Distribution Company are working to promote this certification across Georgia, with an initial focus on the Zrda target regions and communities. As an added benefit, the GeoGAP system will not be proprietary to any particular private firm. Rather, it is designed as a broad-based certification program that is accessible to all actors in the fruits and vegetables sector willing and interested in upgrading their production to attain this certification.
– Market Linkages
Partnership with “Georgian Agro House” to help Zrda beneficiary farmers participate in Georgian Agro House’s supply chain and facilitate the development of high quality production markets for fruits and vegetables in 17 Zrda target municipalities. Crops: tomato, cucumber, eggplant, bell pepper, pepper and carrot.
Through partnership with Georgian Farmers' Distribution Company (GFDC) and the Adjara Hospitality Group, Zrda and GFA established a mobile match-making platform "Agronavti” to fulfill local produce orders for the Adjara Hospitality Group’s hotels and restaurants. To-date, the company and its farmers living in Zrda-target areas generated $
– Improved Post Harvest Management
The Georgian Logistics Association (GLA), with support from Zrda, aims to ensure the sustainability and development impact of its Post-Harvest Handling Management (PHHM) certificate training course, and to this end, assisted interested educational institutions, such as Samtskhe-Javakheti State University (Akhaltsikhe), Euro Regional Teaching University (Gori), and Georgian Technical University (Tbilisi), to modify their syllabi for Agronomy Faculties and include the modules from PHHM into their curricula.