May 1-7, 2022. Frankfurt, Germany – As part of the EU-funded “EMBRACE Tsalka” project, members of the Tsalka LAG, project beneficiaries, and government representatives participated in a week-long study visit to the Frankfurt, Hohenlohe-Tauber, and Hunsruck regions of Germany, organized by the German partner organization – Institute for Rural Development Research (IfLS).
The main purpose of the study visit was to get acquainted with the European LEADER approach, German practice, the structure of LAGs in Germany, their funding sources and implemented projects, establishing networks, and exchanging information.
During the visit, participants held meetings with representatives of ministries, public agencies, regional and federal land management agencies, mayors, and LAG team leaders, and got acquainted with the structure of LAGs, the mechanisms of their recognition, and funding by the governmental institutions. In addition, participants visited various funded projects including a bio farm, digital education program, tourist facilities, water resources training academy, social cafes, and more.
“I am impressed by how the local people are united around one goal and how diverse, as a result of this unity, they have projects tailored to their needs. I believe that if we share their practice and combine all the resources, we will be able to succeed as well “– Mariam Mekoshkishvili, Program Coordinator, Rural Development Agency
“I received a lot of interesting information from our visit. It was important to understand that the activities of the LAGs were supported and recognized by both the government and the public. LAGs do not face the problem of sustainability, although they have to go through a recognition process from time to time, which contributes to the continuous development and strengthening of organizational structure of the LAGs. What was significant for me was that most of the implemented projects are not private businesses, but public projects, and the upper limit of their funding is raised sometimes if the public interest is high. I also liked that the educational projects are 100% funded. It was very interesting to get acquainted with the already implemented projects and meet interesting people. ”– Marine Berianidze, Co-Chair of Tsalka Local Action Group
The study visit was interesting and productive for the participants, both professionally and in terms of values. This visit further reassures participants that prioritizing activities becomes more successful when important personal interests are inconsistent with the public interest.
The project ‘Local LEADERs Embrace Sustainable Development in Multi-Ethnic Tsalka Municipality (EMBRACE Tsalka)” aims to reduce rural poverty and improve living conditions in Tsalka municipality, addressing economic, social, and environmental concerns by improving agricultural competitiveness, promoting sustainable management of natural resources, and building climate-resilient rural economies and communities. In addition, through the LEADER approach, the project will strengthen family farms, entrepreneurs, women, youth and other local groups by providing access to knowledge, innovations and new technologies, by supporting business development and creating jobs.
The project “EMBRACE Tsalka” is implemented under the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) by EU’s partner organization CENN, in partnership with the Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA) and German partner organization – Institute for Rural Development Research (IfLS).