On 25 October 2013, Oxfam in Georgia launched new project ”Improving Regional Food Security through National Strategies and Small Holder Production in the South Caucasus”.
The project aims at improving food security and nutrition in the South Caucasus through the cooperation between government, civil society, small holder farmers and representatives of the private sector in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Out of a budget of €3.2 million, the Euroepan Union is funding € 2.5 million. Oxfam and its partner organisation Biologocal Farming Association Elkana will carry out the project during four years.
Central to the project will be multi-stakeholder working groups, involving project partners, government, the private sector, NGOs, monetary and financial Institutions, research institutions, and representatives of small holder farmers who will draft and publish essential strategies highlighting important role that women play in agricultural production and through these strategies will mainstream the principles of gender equality among small holder farmers.
Launch has been attended by the First Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, Head of Operations Sector at EU Delegation to Georgia, Head of Appartus of Agrarian Committe of Parliament of Georgia local and international NGOs, donor agencies, local and national government representatives, mass media and project beneficiaries.
The presentation started with the welcomng speeches from Oxfam Georgia Programee Director and other officials.
As Keti Getiashvili Oxfam Georgia Programme Director stated in her speech this project has quite ambitious goal ahead: to make it possible to produce effective national food security strategies in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and implement them with the active participation of small holder farmers. She announced that “Oxfam will do its best that the project reaches its goal via close policy dialogue with the agriculture authorities in the region and work hand-in-hand with implementing partner Biological Farming Association Elkana and number of stakeholders to make this happen”.
Head of the Operations Section at EU Mr. Ramon Reigada stated that advocating for better policies on food security is, indeed, an important feature of this new project. He also highlighted another significance element of this action and said that this project will make a strong emphasis on the gender dimension of food security. While women in the Caucasus are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture, the farm labor force and day-to-day family subsistence, they have more difficulties than men in gaining access to resources such as land, credit and productivity-enhancing inputs and services. Given women’s crucial role in food production and provision, any set of strategies for sustainable food security must address their limited access to productive resources.
First Deputy Minister of Agriculture Mr David Shervashidze noted that the international and donor organizations who implement programmes supporting small holder farmers are very important for the future of the country and ministry will appreciate each step taken toward the development of agriculture sector in Georgia. “Agriculture is the main priority for the government of Georgia and we have already implemented unprecedented programmes in this direction. We believe that Georgia has full potential to successfully implement the ambitious project that Oxfam is starting now together with local partners and with the financial support of EU and in about five years Georgia adopts a comprehensive and effective approaches towards food security and nutrition”.
After welcoming speeches Mr. Levan Dadiani Oxfam Agriculture and Food Security Policy Programme Manager presented the porject in detail, emphasizing the main goals and expected results of the programme and described the approaches that will reflect the use of new technology to improve agricultural practices; the incorporation of Disaster Risk Reduction and environmentally sustainable initiatives; a regional perspective to involve and engage with regional actors; measures to evaluate the impact of food security and nutrition strategies; as well as accounting for infrastructure development and agro-extension services and Strengthening women’s role in the agricultural value chains.
The culmination of the event was the the signing ceremony of the memorandum of undesrtanding on establishing the civil society mechanism: “Georgian Alliance on Agriculture and Rural Development” (GAARD). The members of the GAARD signed the memorandum of understanding publicly.
The GAARD will be an inclusive space open to all civil society organizations and private sector and will ensure that a wide range of views can be heard on how to address the problems affecting the rural areas and rural development.