BP assists development of cooperatives in Samtskhe-Javakheti
Co-funding for establishment and development of cooperatives. BP supports development of potato growing, beekeeping, sheep breeding and milk production in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
A number of projects have been implemented since 2003 within the framework of Community Development Initiative (CDI) program - initiated and financed by BP and its partners in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli. Regional Development Association (RDA) implements the abovementioned projects in Samtskhe-Javakheti (western route of the pipeline).
The program CDI is implemented in the villages located along the western route of the pipeline and aims to improve living conditions of the population in 33 villages of Borjomi, Akhaltsikhe and Adigeni municipalities through financing participatory socio-economic projects.
Within one of the program components, CDI supports establishment and development agricultural cooperatives trhough matching finance, free trainings and consultations.
Potato Growing Cooperative in Tskaltbila
Simon Darbinyan, Armik Arutinyan and Arutun Pozoyan funded potato growing cooperative “Elita” in May 2014 and according to the Director of the cooperative Stepan Safaryan BP assisted them in its establishment.
“In March, we wrote the project and in a month and a half we were funded with 23,490Gel. With this amount we bought a tractor and aggregates. We received a very good harvest, even though it was a bad year and sold about 30 tones. Up to 180 tones still remains for sale. We grow high quality seed potato. Our consumers are regional farmers”, - says Mr Safaryan and adds, that for ensuring high quality seed materials, potato is sown in high altitudes - “we have sown potato villages Tskaltbila and Moliti of Borjomi Municipality” – he notes.
According to Mr Safaryan, before BP assistance, farmers’ groups received harvest, however it the costs of production were high, because they had to rent machinery. After forming into cooperative and receiving matching grant, “Elita” has own machinery and cultivates larger plots: "we planted potato on 6 ha and wheat on 3 ha. We received great results".
Stepan Safaryan says the representative of Regional Development Association assisted them in establishment of the cooperative and in formal issues.
“We think to expand our farming land to up to 10 ha, but we have some issues with land title and we can’t put it on our balance sheet yet. By this time we have contributed to the cooperative an asset of 1 ha land plot. We are mostly working on leased land”, - says Safaryan.
According to Regional Development Association they assist the cooperative members in solving formal part of the process, provide consultations and monitor their activities.
“The program is planned till May 2015 and funded cooperatives will receive consultations within the framework of the abovementioned component till the end of the program”, says Koka Dogonadze, RDA Cooperative Development Manager and adds, that within this program RDA works closely with Agricultural Cooperatives Development Agency and with every entity involved in the process. According to Mr Dogonadze, in order to receive the status of Agricultural Cooperative the members of the cooperative have to update the registration of the land in their ownership and contribute to the cooperative, this is a lengthy process delaying status assignation process. In order to accelerate the process, RDA consolidated the tasks and and organized standard, simultaneous service for all cooperatives.
According to RDA, the government initiative succeeded, as up to 300 cooperatives were awarded the status of Agricultural Cooperative throughout Georgia.
Cooperative “Elita” employees up to 40 people seasonally. Nine people are employed permanently.
BP also supports development of cattle-breeding
This year in March, cooperative “Tsiris Merdzeveebi” was established through matching grant of BP.
According to Ludvik Petrosyan, head of the cooperative, after receiving BP funding, they bought more cows and expanded their dairy farm. They also sell milk in Akhaltsikhe and Borjomi markets.
“We were financed and with received money we bought cows. At first we had just 12 cows now we own 32 heads. We have repaired the farm. By the next year we plan to employ several people - at this time, the cooperative members take care of the cattle by themselves” - says Mr Petrosyan
According to Mr Petrosyan, they have contributed 4 ha of land to the cooperative in order to enhance the farm: “we have other plots also, but it is yet impossible to register them in our ownership, as they are leased”.
BP responded to the government’s initiative of new law on Agricultural Cooperatives by adding the agricultural cooperatives development component to the CDI program, as consolidation of the resources will bring significant benefit to the local farmers”, - says Koka Dogonadze, Cooperatives Development Manager of RDA.
Submission of applications was implemented in two phases. In the first phase, which was announced in March 47 business ideas were solicited. The winners were evaluated according to specific criteria.
Selected candidates were trained in preparing business plans and financial documents. In the second phase 4 cooperatives out of 12 shortlisted were financed based on submitted business plans: potato growing and potato seed production in the village Tskaltbila, milk production in village Tsira, beekeeping in Tsnisi and sheep-breeding in village Minadze.
According to RDA, three out of four cooperatives have already launched operations and are counting income. In total, 4 teams have contributed 13ha of land to the balance of the cooperative. In addition to these buildings, facilities with total amount of 208,100 Gel have been added to the cooperative balance.