June 11, 2022. Tsalka Municipality. Within the frames of the EU-supported EMBRACE Tsalka project, implemented by CENN and partner organizations, the rural festival “Visit Tsalka” took place in Tsalka. The Festival was organized by the CENN, Tsalka LAG, and Georgian Farmers’ Association.
The festival aimed at raising awareness about Tsalka Municipality. It gathered young people, local entrepreneurs, government officials, organizers and other guests in Tsalka in one space to exchange their experience and knowledge.
“This event further underlines the crucial role played by the Local Action Groups in the development of the areas where they are active. Community-Led Local Development, or CLLD, has been at the core of European Union rural development for over 30 years now. By engaging local actors in the design and delivery of local strategies, decision-making and resource allocation for the development of their area, this process has allowed for many rural areas to thrive both economically and socially. The experience of the EMBRACE Tsalka LAG has fully demonstrated how much this CLLD approach is equally effective for Georgian rural areas. By elaborating a local development strategy and implementing it in active cooperation with local and national agencies, EMBRACE has brought a new energy in the development of Tsalka that we would witness first hand today during the festival. Congratulations to the organisers and our deepest appreciation to CENN, GFA and the Tsalka municipality for having supported it.” – noted Georges Dehoux, Programme Manager for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food Safety at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
In the frames of the festival an exhibition-sale of products was organized by the entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses and other EU-funded projects. In addition, an educational event for young people was held, which included children’s painting exhibition and sale. Proceeds from the sale of the paintings were donated to support the Ukrainian people.
„I would like to thank the organizers and note that the implementation of such festivals and initiatives is vital for the promotion of Tsalka Municipality and the creation of new opportunities. Tsalka Municipality is distinguished by its natural, economic, and social diversity and the project “EMBRACE Tsalka” promotes the development of local potential from the very beginning. Support from state institutions further enhances the sustainability of such projects and promotes closer links between civil society and state institutions.“ – said Gogi Meshveliani, the member of Parliament of Georgia.
Festival guests interested in tourist adventures joined the tourist route organized in Tsalka Canyon and got acquainted with the tourist potential of Tsalka.
“I am glad that we were given the opportunity to meet in the beautiful nature of Tsalka. Tsalka is not discovered, not only by the Georgian population, but also by the people of Tsalka, and it is very important that the name of the project and its activities really serve that most important purpose. Thank you for attending the Festival, your involvement and support is very important to us. Special thanks to the EU Delegation to Georgia for both political and financial support. Also, many thanks to the representatives of the Government of Georgia for their involvement in the project. The Tsalka project, unlike previous ENPARD projects, focuses on the fourth area in addition to the three existing ones, which involves the integration and empowerment of vulnerable groups. I believe this festival is an excellent opportunity to discover Tsalka, support integration among locals, develop tourism potential and establish business partnerships.” – noted Melano Tkabladze, CENN’s Project Manager.
Within the framework of the festival, a memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Georgian Regional Tourism Association and the Tsalka Local Action Group.
“The project was able to unite not only people with different interests and business directions, but also representatives of different ethnic groups. In order to develop their business, farmers living in Tsalka have improved their knowledge and gained new experience through various trainings organized by GFA” – said Nino Zambakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Farmers’ Association.
A live concert performed by Giorgi Sukhitashvili and Giorgi Tskhadadze was held at the end of the festival.
The EU delegation to Georgia, farmers, businesses, executive government, representatives of international, and local and agricultural organizations also attended the event.
The festival is held in Tsalka within the framework of the “EMBRACE Tsalka” project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by CENN in partnership with the Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA) and the Rural Development Research Institute (Ifls). The project aims to diversify local economic activities, attract investment and promote specific agricultural and environmental practices through participatory, strategic planning of rural development.