Growing productivity for Georgia’s women farmers


Women in Georgia’s rural areas learn good practices from FAO and the EU for better farming

©FAO/Vladimir Valishvili

12/06/2020

Georgia is primarily an agricultural country, and women are crucial participants and contributors to agricultural development. Nonetheless, the contribution of women to agricultural production remains invisible and under-recognized.

These women also face difficulties in accessing crucial resources such as land, agricultural inputs, new technologies, and financing opportunities, as well as information, extension services, and training opportunities. With better agricultural knowledge rural women could enhance their farms’ production and raise standard of living for their children and families.

To overcome this shortcoming, female farmers in Georgia have learned about agricultural production and good practices from FAO and the European Union (EU) under the umbrella of the European Neighborhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural Development (ENPARD).

Tsiuri Beridze lives in Georgia’s mountainous Adjara region that is short of arable land and thus challenging enough even for FAO agronomists. She was among the first female farmers in her community volunteering to learn about the new agricultural practices and technologies.

“Manual transplanting turns work into suffering, but from FAO and EU programme experts I’ve learnt that it can be done in a smarter and easier way,” Tsiuri said, who cultivates a 0.05 hectare plot.

She vigorously enriched her substantial experience of tomato production and took full advantage of producing vegetable seedlings in trays, arranging ridges and mulch, as well as using transplanters for seedlings, a process which ultimately saved her a lot of hard, physical work.

“Seeing my example, my neighbors also decided to buy transplanters for the next season. This is just one small development along with a lot of useful information and tips that professional agronomists provided for us,” she added.

The support is multidimensional, and, building on FAO’s experience, it ranges from establishing demonstration plots and farmer field schools to helping make the best decisions for improving crop qualities and increasing incomes. Activities cover several municipalities all across the country (Akhalkalaki, Akhmeta, Dedoplistskaro, Keda Lagodekhi, Tetritskaro, Tsalka, and Tskaltubo), and haven’t even stopped due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Luda Manuilova (left) and Inga Beruashvili (right) working on their lands. Photo: ©FAO

Climate-smart methods

Luda Manuilova owns 50 hectares of agricultural land in Lagodekhi municipality. For two years, Luda has been closely working with FAO experts and experimenting with conservation agriculture practices, such as minimum tillage. As a result, the joint work and improved production methods are bearing fruit: she could harvest more maize with lower production costs, as minimum tillage requires less fuel consumption and land preparation time. Moreover, Luda started sharing her experience and acquired knowledge with fellow farmers in the community, as well as providing mechanization services and other agricultural supplies to them.

“I am always happy to motivate other farmers in my community, especially women. I’m willing to show them how to adopt new practices and improve their yields,” Luda said.

Female farmers living in internally displaced settlements in Georgia have also received help. Inga Beruashvili had to flee her home following the 2008 conflict, forcing her to start a new life and farming from scratch in the Koda settlement, located in the south of the country. In her demonstration plot, where vegetables are grown, Inga used climate-smart agriculture practices, including mulching, bed formation, and drip irrigation, with support from FAO and the EU. All these helped increase crop resilience to drought, floods, and other extreme weather events. She is keen to help others by sharing these good practices with her neighbours and engaging other internally displaced women in the settlement to take up agriculture. 

Tsiuri Beridze was among the first female farmers in her community volunteering to learn about the new agricultural practices and technologies. Photo: ©FAO/Meri Bekauri

Training series for agricultural extension specialists

Along with enhancing the knowledge of female farmers in Georgia’s remote districts, FAO and the EU also organized a series of gender training sessions for state agricultural extension specialists in February. So far, more than 100 people from seven different municipalities of Georgia have participated in the training programme, aimed at equipping them with necessary tools for mainstreaming gender into their work.

Participants learned new information and theoretical concepts from FAO experts on gender and gender mainstreaming. Based on the knowledge obtained, the extensionists are expected to design and deliver better advice to the farmers in a gender-sensitive way.

Enhancing livelihoods of rural population, particularly of women, is part of the FAO-EU support to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia in the implementation of the gender inclusive National Strategy for Agricultural Extension 2018–2020.

The European Union supports rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD Programme. With the goal of reducing rural poverty, ENPARD has been funded with a total budget of 179.5 million euros since operations began in 2013.


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