The Department of Rural Development and Vocational Education (DRDVE) of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) began in 2005 as the Georgian Rural Development Program (GRDP), later expanding into the Georgian Rural Development Department (GRDD) in 2014 and now currently rebranded and working within a dual focus of rural development and vocational education. The initial support for the conceptualization and establishment of GRDD was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Millennium Challenge Account – Georgia (MCA-Georgia).
Since opening its doors in 2005, Georgian Rural Development Department of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs has been successfully implementing projects in the field of agriculture and rural development financed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), UNHCR, European Commission, United States Embassy, United States Department of State and various international organizations. The initial aim of the Department was to introduce modern agricultural and rural development practices and increase the levels of education and existing capacities while providing support for institutional development in all of the regions of Georgia. In particular, the Department has also supported the improvement of sustainable socio-economic conditions for conflict-affected regions and contributed to the development of good governance and policy-making for agriculture development in Georgia. Areas of outreach and engagement include agriculture, veterinary, animal health, food safety, agriculture statistics, agribusiness, vocational education and rural economic development.
Throughout its now 13 years of active presence in Georgia, Georgian Rural Development Department has continued to provide and implement educational activities for the country’s civil, private and public sectors with a foundation on expert-level consultancy and trainings using innovative educational programs and modern teaching and learning materials prepared in the Georgian language.
Most recently, the Department and its team’s demonstrated successes and experience in rural development has expanded to include a vocational education project – the first of its kind in Georgia – with the financial support of the Millennium Challenge Fund – Georgia (MCA-Georgia). DRDVE is the proud designer and implementer of the Developing, Implementing and Institutionalizing a Level-V Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) and Internationally Recognized Certificate Programs in General Health, Safety and Environment at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) project which began its piloting phase in October 2016 and will run until the end of August 2018. Activities include module based teaching and internationally recognized certificate courses.
The Department of Rural Development and Vocational Education remains committed to achieving its objectives and maintaining the sustainability of its projects through the extensive support from leading US and EU donor organizations and institutions.
On February 12-15, 2019 Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) in partnership with the RRC International organized a joint certificate training course in Health and Safety for Managers. The training was attended by the representative of the following organizations: Georgian Railways, Batumi State Maritime Academy, Georgian Aviation University, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and its students from the vocational program: Occupational Safety and Environmental Technologies. The training course was organized through the financial support of the Millennium Challenge Account – Georgia, within the frame of the “Industry-led Skills and Workforce Development (ISWD)” project.
The course was provided by the international expert Mr. Giorgo Mariamidze, who covered the occupational/workplace safety related topics, such as: The goal of the occupational safety and health; Safety management systems; Safety culture; Communication, cooperation, competence and control; Risk assessment and risk control; Workplace hazards; Accidents and incidents; Monitor and review the safety performance.
This course is focusing on the awareness rising of the safety measures among the managers and its importance at different levels of the organization. It is an ideal introductory overview for the managers working in different industries, especially for decision makers, who are in charge of the occupational safety and health related issues.
After completion of the course, training participants will receive the GIPA/RRC joint certificate.
DRDVE of GIPA is honored to count the following organizations and agencies among its donors and partners:
DRDVE of GIPA is honored to cooperate with the following governmental bodies and institutions of higher and vocational education:
Supporting the Regions for Sustainable Development
The Department of Rural Development and Vocational Education (DRDVE) of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) in partnership with The International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) is implementing the project to study Competitive Advantage in Mountainous Regions. The aim of the project is to study the following areas: functional regions, main gravity centers, leading areas of economic activity and areas with the high potential of development, competitive advantages and specific recommendations for local and central governments to increase the competitiveness of these functional regions. The project will be implemented in December 2018 - June 2019. The project is funded by the Consultation and Training Center (CTC), in frame of UNDP's and EU's ongoing programs.
Piloting Modern Trading Opportunities in Agriculture through Creation of Innovative Online Platform – AgroNet
The Department of Rural Development and Vocational Education (DRDVE) of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), in partnership with ELVA Community Engagement (Georgia), Varna Economic Development Agency (Bulgaria) and SMART Development Center (Romania), is implementing the Piloting Modern Trading Opportunities in Agriculture through Creation of Innovative Online Platform – AgroNet project, funded by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration of Romania, acting as the Managing Authority for the European Neighborhood Instrument Cross-Border Cooperation (ENI CBC) Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme 2014-2020. The project will be implemented over a two-year period from June 2018 to July 2020.
The main objective of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation aiming to increase trade opportunities and modernization in the agricultural and other connected sectors through the creation and piloting of a new marketplace in the form of an innovative online trading platform. The project implementation will be piloted at the regional level in three countries of the Black Sea Basin ̶ Georgia, Bulgaria and Romania ̶ with a forward outlook for transferability and extension opportunities in neighboring countries.
The following key actions are envisaged within the project:
The development of the online agriculture trading platform and making it operational will benefit different agriculture and trade related public and private actors. The platform will help agriculture business operators such as farmers, agricultural cooperatives, wholesalers, exporters, retailers, processors, etc., to improve their agriculture cross-border trading opportunities. It will bring them in line with international food safety standards and open access to agriculture and trade related information through the active involvement of different public and private actors at the national and international levels.
Promoting a New Rural Development Approach in Akhalkalaki
GRDD of GIPA in partnership with Mercy Corps, Elva Community Engagement and West Cork (Ireland) Development Partnership is implementing the Promoting a New Rural Development Approach in Akhalkalaki project funded by the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development in Georgia (ENPARD Georgia).
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the reduction of poverty in Georgia through a new and innovative methodology for rural development. Together with the project’s partners, GIPA intends to promote a bottom-up, inclusive rural development approach in Akhalkalaki that fully engages all communities in the municipality and, specifically, women and youth. The project’s budget is EUR 2,444,444.00.
Industry-led Skills and Workforce Development
The Department of Rural Development and Vocational Education of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (DRDVE of GIPA) in partnership with RCC International is implementing the Industry-led Skills and Workforce Development project financed by MCA Georgia. The overall objective of the project is to develop, implement and institutionalize level-V technical vocational education training (TVET) and internationally recognized certificate programs in occupational safety and environmental protection technologies at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs.
Graduates of the training and the programs will have employment opportunities in both public and private companies. Industries requiring specialists in General HSE Management are broad and cover almost all areas of business with an immediate and increasing demand for health, safety and environment specialists in Georgia seen in the following sectors: construction, power supply, water supply, oil and gas, logistics and transportation, heavy industry, mining, sea ports, communications providers, hospitality providers and agro-service providers, among others, with specialists also needed for the state’s Occupational Safety Inspectorate.
The first admission of students for the Occupational Safety and Environmental Protection Technologies program was announced in February 2018. The next admission of students will be announced in September 2018.
Georgian National Animal Health Program
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Georgian National Animal Health Program is being successfully implemented by GRDD of GIPA in partnership with Colorado State University (CSU). The vision of the Georgian National Animal Health Program is to achieve a continuous and lasting improvement in the health and welfare of animals which meets the needs of stakeholders, enables the safe production of food, improves public health and sustains the rural economy. The primary goal of the Program is to promote private veterinary sector development with appropriate incentives in the regions. The Program has six strategic objectives:
The Program design was elaborated in the Georgian National Animal Health Program Paper which was presented at the Bakuriani Conference in February 2009. It is governed by a Steering Group comprised of representatives of the Government of Georgia as well as international donors working in the animal health field that convenes upon a regular basis. An important feature of the Georgian National Animal Health Program are the Veterinarians' Regional Associations (VRAs) which bring together more than 200 rural veterinarians to support and promote their work in expanding veterinary coverage throughout Georgia.
Georgian National Animal Health Program Steering Group
The Georgian National Animal Health Program Steering Group (NAHP SG) is a body of decision-makers which is currently chaired by the First Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Nodar Kereselidze, and leads and oversees all national animal health related actions in Georgia.
The purpose of the Steering Group is to oversee investment in animal health in the country and coordinate the efforts of donors in the Georgian National Animal Health Program in order to improve the probability of successfully achieving the stated aims and results. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports the coordination of the Steering Group.
The primary outcome of the NAHP SG is to enhance the institutional capacity of state veterinarian services as well as improve laboratory diagnostic capacities and surveillance.
Six strategic outcomes shared by the members of the Steering Group are as follow:
Steering Group meetings on the Georgian National Animal Health Program are held at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture in Tbilisi. The meetings offer opportunities for all participants to engage in the sharing of experiences and best practices as concern animal health related issues in Georgia.
Developing Veterinarians’ Regional Associations
Since 2009, GRDD of GIPA in partnership and with the technical assistance of Colorado State University (CSU), has been implementing the Animal Health (AH) program financed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The aim of the program is to develop the private veterinary sector in Georgia and coordinate the Steering Group established within the Georgian National Animal Health Program.
To this end, the program supported the establishment of Veterinarians’ Regional Associations (VRA) in seven regions of Georgia uniting more than 200 veterinary practitioners as the members of the associations.
Theoretical and practical trainings are being conducted by invited local and international consultants to increase the professional skills of veterinarians and enable them to attain up-to-date standards responding to modern market requirements.
The main objective of the Veterinarians’ Regional Associations is to improve veterinary services in the country, improve human and animal health and prepare qualified veterinary staff in compliance with contemporary standards.
The main activities of the Veterinarians’ Regional Associations include the following:
The Department of Rural Development and Vocational Education (DRDVE) of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) in partnership with The International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) is implementing the project Study of Competitive Advantage in Mountainous Regions. The aim of the project is to study the following areas: functional regions, main gravity centers, leading areas of economic activity and areas with the high potential of development, competitive advantages and specific recommendations for local and central governments to increase the competitiveness of these functional regions. The project will be implemented in December 2018 - June 2019. The project is funded by the Consultation and Training Center (CTC), in frame of UNDP's and EU's ongoing programs.
EU ENPARD - Empowering Modern Research Practices of Regional Agriculture-Related Institutions
The Georgian Rural Development Department of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GRDD of GIPA) in partnership with the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) and PMC Research Center, implemented the Empowering Modern Research Practices of Regional Agriculture-Related Institutions project funded by the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development in Georgia (ENPARD Georgia). The overall objectives of the action were to increase the capacity of regional agriculture-related education and research institutions to meet the challenges within the agriculture, food processing, environment and rural development sectors according to international standards and in response to the identified lack of research capacity existing and being utilized therein. The project targeted three direct beneficiaries from three different regions of Georgia: Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, Samtskhe-Javakheti State University of the Samtskhe-Javakheti Region and Iakob Gogebashvili Telavi State University of the Kakheti Region.
ENPARD - Strengthening Farmers Cooperatives in Rural Municipalities of Georgia
The Georgian Rural Development Department of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GRDD of GIPA) was an implementing partner with Mercy Corps in the EU’s European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development in Georgia (ENPARD) project entitled Strengthening Farmers’ Cooperatives in Rural Municipalities of Georgia.
GRDD of GIPA was responsible for the implementation of activities related to policy and lobbying/advocacy. The Department established regular fora for dialogue between farmer groups, service providers and the government sector in the target municipalities of the Imereti and Shida Kartli regions. Activities included the facilitation of orientation sessions provided by the government to farmer groups and agricultural service providers on agriculture-related legislation, trainings for government representatives and local regional authorities on conveying the agricultural strategy to the public, effective inter-intra government communication, awareness raising on gender legislation and its implementation and trainings on gender for farmer groups and agricultural service providers.
The One Health Master Class
The Georgian Rural Development Department (GRDD) of Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) with financial support of US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and with technical assistance of the Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture (LMA), and Colorado State University (CSU) organized master class on One Health related issues.
The master class was lead by Lali Madzgharashvili, Head of the LMA, and Kendra Stauffer, US CDC representative in Georgia and One Health Team Leader. Representatives of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection and Ministry of Internal Affairs comprised the participants of the master class.
The master class was conducted in the task oriented format aiming to help each representative to identify themselves being the key players and indicate their roles within the One Health problem solving process.
Association Management Center
The Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GRDP of GIPA) assisted Veterinarians’ Regional Associations (VRA) in the Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions to establish an Association Management Center (AMC) initiated in October 2011 within the United States Department of Agriculture funded Georgian National Animal Health Program.
The Center represents the Coalition of the Veterinarians’ Regional Associations and plays a key role in the implementation of activities such as coordination between the individual Veterinarians’ Regional Associations, the establishment of effective relations between the associations and state organizations, working towards a reduction in the overhead costs of the small associations and providing administrative services. The services are available based on a membership system.
The Association Management Center assists associations in their effective cooperation with the public and private sectors as well as with local and international organizations. It facilitates long-term investments, effective decision-making processes and supports the development of professional associations as one of the major priorities for the country.
The Integrated Socio-Economic Zone and Professional Training Center (ISEZ)
The Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GRDP of GIPA) established the Integrated Socio-Economic Zone (ISEZ) in the Shida Kartli region (Shindisi village) in 2011, financed by UNHCR and the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Reintegration.
ISEZ was conceived with a larger and longer-term outlook aiming to address the socio-economic rehabilitation of the war-affected areas in Georgia following the military conflict in August 2008 and targeting the Shida Kartli region. Specifically, the project seeks to restore and enhance the agricultural and agro-business productivity of the region, as Shida Kartli was an area hard hit by the conflict, while also promoting and encouraging related social and community activity and engagement by providing employment, income-generating training and leisure opportunities for the local population.
In its form and structure, ISEZ is a secure, fenced, multi-function complex comprising a cold storage facility for locally grown produce alongside a professional training center offering courses in cold storage systems, agro-business management and arts and crafts together with other areas with potential employment opportunities for the local community.
The following professional training courses were held at the ISEZ training center funded by the Open Society Institute under the Local Government and the Public Service Reform Initiative:
A total of 259 people took part in these trainings.
Based on an agreement between the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and CNFA-Georgia, extension trainings (Theoretical and Practical Trainings in Agricultural Fields) were held for farmers and customers of machinery service centers.
A total of 102 trainings for beneficiaries in intensive fruit and vegetable production technologies were held between October 2010 and March 2012. GIPA and its partner organization, LTD Akhali Mamuli, led the trainings.
Additional trainings were conducted by qualified trainers of the local NGO IAAD at machinery service centers in the Shida Kartli, Kvemo Kartli, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti, Guria, Racha-Lechkhumi, Kakheti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. The trainings were on the following topics:
The Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs prepared training materials and conducted an evaluation of the training’s efficiency
Capacity Development Support to GEOSTAT
In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) operated the Caucasus Agricultural Development Initiative (CADI) in order to support agricultural development and capacity building across a wide spectrum of areas within Georgia. CADI’s goals were to promote the improved profitability of livestock held by farmers through enhancing farm management practices with improved veterinary care and other techniques. A signed agreement between GIPA and the CADI anticipated the provision of services to support capacity development initiatives in agricultural development with the assistance of GEOSTAT.
The cooperation included a joint GEOSTAT/CADI evaluation survey designed to identify the need and quality of veterinary service provision and the details of farm management practices as well as improving service through the strengthening of private sector veterinarians in terms of updating their theoretical and practical knowledge.
The Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs was actively involved in the process of developing the questionnaire, arranging the field visits, identifying the household owners to participate and preparing the instructions for the interviewers, among others. The efficiency of the questions was tested by GIPA, GEOSTAT and USDA’s representatives conducted in three regions of Georgia; namely, in Kakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Samtskhe-Javakheti.
Making Employment Opportunities for Rural Orphans through Education
This initiative intended to help members of vulnerable communities overcome the challenges they face and increase their opportunities through education and training was funded by UNICEF and implemented by the Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs during the period December 2008 to November 2009. A group of 140 orphans from the Saguramo, Tsalenjikha and Senaki child care institutions benefited directly from the project’s activities and engagement.
The project targeted the delivery of modern agricultural knowledge alongside the provision of appropriate resources to help participants develop relevant agricultural skills as a means of increasing opportunities for finding and successfully engaging in employment. In parallel, the project looked to integrate these vulnerable community members further into society through a personal and professional empowerment gained by means of their increased skills and self-confidence.
The project constructed a greenhouse at each of the child care institutions and provided all of the necessary supplies including seeds, seedlings, pesticides and practical instruction. In addition, each institution received ten beehives and all of the supplies needed for honey production together with other relevant tools and equipment. The Senaki institution also received 20 goats as a part of its agricultural training program. Printed educational materials were made available to all participants related to greenhouse management and beekeeping. A particular feature of the project was a summer camp format supporting all participants in leadership, communication and team management skills development.
Stamping Out Pandemic and Avian Influenza - STOP AI
The Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs with its project partner, Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), provided the logistical support necessary to organize and complete biosecurity cascade trainings in all regions of Georgia, financed by USAID.
Within the program, two-day trainings were organized in ten municipalities of Georgia which were attended by local public officials and individuals involved in the private poultry business and who were responsible for reacting during outbreaks of disease.
The main topics of the trainings were:
More than 200 poultry specialists were trained during the sessions.
STOP AI builds capacity and helps develop systems, practices and procedures to prevent, detect, respond and stop highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry.
Agricultural Education Development
The aim of the project was to increase the quality of teaching and training provided by institutions in the field of agricultural education. The target educational institutions included: Georgian State Agricultural University (GSAU), former agricultural vocational colleges and Future Farmers of Georgia (FFG) schools.
The project was implemented in 2007-2009 in Tbilisi and the Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kakheti and Samegrelo regions by the Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and the project’s partner, the University of Idaho, USA, with the financial support of USDA.
Within the project, the curricula of the three target institutions were developed, libraries were equipped, educational materials in agronomy, veterinary and information technologies were upgraded, teachers were trained and public awareness was increased through an information campaign and education. The project also facilitated the improvement of the efficiency of extension services through the rehabilitation of the educational infrastructure. Apart from that, horticulture and agricultural technologies were introduced and two cooperatives in dairy and horticulture were established. As a result, members of the cooperatives increased their income by 24% and nearly 100 tons of garlic import was decreased in Georgia. In parallel, a web page was developed, www.agromarket.ge, aiming to share information among farmers, agribusinesses actors, dairy producers and horticulture cooperatives.
Market Information Systems
The development of a market information system (MIS) was created to improve access to agricultural market information in Georgia. In 2006, the pilot project was conceptualized and designed by USAID AgVantage and implemented by the Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. The developed market information system would ensure improved access to agricultural market information for Georgian farmers, wholesalers, exporters, retailers and processors. Beginning active implementation in 2006, the project provided users with access to basic relevant information such as prices on domestic and export markets and technical/extension information while offering a readily accessible database of suppliers, buyers, business linkage opportunities and product offers. The project aimed at providing information to beneficiaries on internal and external market prices. The project also enabled the agribusiness actors to establish better business linkages.
In its pilot phase, the MIS produced and utilized three tools for the collection, dissemination and dispatch of information to end users: AgroInfo (a monthly print magazine), AgroMarket Bulletin (a biweekly print bulletin) and the AgroInfo web information portal (https://agroinfo.ge). Market price analysis was conducted and published and target groups of users needing access to market price related information were identified as a part of the project’s activities. The newspaper Rezonansi assisted the project by disseminating the information among its 60,000 readers.
Extension Service Centres
In 2007-2008, the Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs in partnership with Kentucky University and with financial support from the USDA, implemented the Agriculture Education and Extension project. The aim of the project was to establish extension centers on the basis of agricultural vocational institutions and agricultural institutes existing in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kakheti and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions. These centers offered consultation services to farmers, students and actors engaged in agribusiness. Besides consulting, the services included soil testing, work on demonstration plots, growing new types of vegetable crops and organizing field days together with local and foreign experts. Participants in the project were able to learn about the American extension service system based on the best practice of Lexington. The centers consulted 200 farmers in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and 150 farmers in the Senaki district. The Kachreti Extension Center was equipped with the beehives, a soil testing laboratory, veterinary tools, a drip irrigation system, vegetable crops, fertilizers and equipment for grapevine cultivation.
Future Farmers of Georgia
In 2009, the Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs in partnership with the University of Georgia and with the financial support of the USDA, implemented the Future Farmers of Georgia project.
The project was based on US experience, Future Farmers of America, which is well developed in villages and town schools in the United States. The essence of the project is to help young people develop and increase their knowledge and skills in leadership and career growth in agriculture. The model was piloted in seven secondary schools of the following five regions: Kakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti, Guria and Shida Kartli.
Within the project, the piloting schools were equipped with demonstration greenhouses. Schools were provided with fertilizers, equipment and tools for land cultivation. In addition, qualified experts provided consultation to students about the use and operation of greenhouses. Project beneficiary students had the opportunity to obtain theoretical knowledge and practical experience in order to fully master the foundations of agricultural activities. The newly gained knowledge and experience allowed students to apply their abilities in small businesses start-ups.
University of Kentucky Interns Based at Georgian Agricultural Technical Colleges
In 2008, the Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs in partnership with Kentucky University and with the financial support of USDA hosted five interns from the University of Kentucky. The main objective of the project was to share experience and support Georgian agricultural students to learn more about modern approaches and methodologies in various agricultural, entrepreneurial and extension activities. Along with the interns, 30-50 local students from the Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kakheti and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions were involved in the project. The interns assisted students in organizing various activities that helped to enhance their practical knowledge. In addition to the practical training, the project included activities such as setting up irrigation systems in vineyards and fruit orchards, electric fencing of gardens, application of milk analysis equipment, organizing field days which were attended by 150 farmers, local government representatives, representatives of different organizations working in the agriculture sphere and representatives of the Ministry of Education.
Cheese Factory at the Phoka Monastery
The Georgian Rural Development Program of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs officially opened a cheese factory at the Phoka Monastery on June 1, 2008. The factory is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) within the framework of the Georgian Rural Development Program (GRDP). The aim of the project was to support the development of local agriculture and promote best practices in the region.