FAO in Georgia

Programmes in Georgia


1. This Country Programming Framework (CPF) sets out the priority areas to guide the partnership of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA), bringing together innovative international best practices and global standards with national and regional expertise from 2021 to 2025.

2. CPF outcomes are derived from Georgia’s United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021–2025, which is informed by the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and broad multi-stakeholder consultations summarizing the partnership of the Government of Georgia and the United Nations (UN) for the priority policy and programme areas for a five-year period.


3. Agriculture, with a significant percentage of the population engaged, is an essential sector for the economic development of Georgia and, particularly, for jobs, poverty reduction and food security. However, despite it being a major employer (with 19.8 percent of the total employment)[1] in 2020, the share of agriculture, forestry and fishery in the gross domestic product (GDP) was only 8.3 percent.[2]

4. It is evident that the benefits of economic growth have not reached all the population. The large majority of households are engaged in subsistence agriculture. Besides, a lot of employment has been informal (especially for women), with low productivity in the agrifood sectors. Low productivity and incomes among smallholders are a major challenge for Georgia, since agriculture accounts for a significant share of rural employment but generates only meagre economic results. Agriculture is a sector with high economic potential in Georgia, but it is unlikely to be realized without increased productivity and a higher level of economic diversification to enable the accelerated development of rural areas. Increasing agricultural productivity and supporting rural development play important roles in the effort to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.

5. The food system in Georgia can act as the key economic, social and environmental driver to accelerate the progress of the country for transformative change in the context of the 2030 Agenda. With agriculture being the key economic activity in rural areas, climate-smart agriculture and the fishery and forestry sectors can have a transformative effect if progress is made towards the set objectives, which include increased competitiveness and stable growth of high-quality agricultural production, food safety and security, and the elimination of rural poverty through the sustainable development of agriculture.

6. Low agricultural productivity, high regional disparities, and unresolved conflict in Georgia that severely impacts people in conflict-affected areas are challenges that require the inclusion of those left behind in the labour force and the participation of rural areas in the productive economy. One of the policy priorities in the country is the work towards enhancing human security by improving access to services, livelihoods and decent employment opportunities, especially for conflict-affected communities. It should be specifically ensured that conflict-affected communities are equally covered by post-pandemic socioeconomic recovery programmes, including support in achieving food security and improved nutrition through the provision of agricultural inputs and improved subsistence farming and production.

[1] Geostat. 2020. Distribution of Employed Persons by Economic Activity 2020. In: Geostat [online]. https://www.geostat.ge/en/modules/categories/683/Employment-Unemployment

[2] Geostat. 2020. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Current Prices by Economic Activity 2020. In: Geostat [online]. https://www.geostat.ge/en/modules/categories/23/gross-domestic-product-gdp




3.1  Strategic priorities and the drivers for transformative change of food systems in Georgia


1.     The Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy (ARDS) of Georgia 2021–2027 and the related Action Plan present a national pathway towards agriculture and food system reforms in the country. The ARDS identifies the weaknesses of the socioeconomic situation in rural areas, including low-productive sectors and low labour productivity. According to the ARDS, the low-productive agricultural sector presents a potential risk for rural and agricultural development. The ARDS pays particular attention to rural women’s economic empowerment and has the following three strategic directions: 1) competitive agricultural and non-agricultural sectors; 2) Sustainable usage of natural resources, retaining the ecosystem, adaptation to climate change; and 3) effective systems of food/feed safety, veterinary and plant protection.


2.     According to the CCA, the priorities in rural development should focus on the economy and competitiveness, social conditions and living standards, and environmental protection and sustainable management of natural resources. The sustainable development vision is truly important, as a large number of the poor in Georgia live in rural areas and are dependent on the environment for their livelihoods. Increased agricultural productivity can have significant impacts on the environment. In order to avoid pollution and the degradation of soil, water and air, the adoption of the best agricultural practices for reducing ammonia emissions, as well as the enhancement of climate-smart farming practices, will be essential. The impact of climate change on agriculture can seriously threaten food security and livelihoods in the country. The Third National Environmental Action Program of Georgia (NEAP) establishes the strategic goals, targets and activities required to improve the environment.  The Climate Change Strategy of Georgia for 2030 and the 2021–2023 Action Plan, as well as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) determined by the Paris Agreement further outline the national path to a low-carbon future. Therefore, it is essential to support the country in its implementation of the NEAP, the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and its NDCs.


3.2  Theory of change and key strategic priority


3.     The theory of change of the Georgia Cooperation Framework is anchored in the 2030 Agenda, which is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity and seeks to strengthen peace in larger freedom by building partnerships. Derived from the UNSDCF, the CPF theory of change expects that if:

1. a) agrifood systems become sustainable; b) responsibility is taken for the entire value chains to improve production, food quality, safety and nutrition while building livelihoods’ resilience and reducing environmental impact;

2. a) conflict-affected communities enjoy better socioeconomic integration with improved livelihoods and long-term sustainable development; b) conflict-affected communities have improved access to services, livelihoods and decent employment opportunities; and

3. a) environmental governance and climate risk management are supported by adequate legislative, institutional and policy frameworks that enable conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, land and water use; b) climate-smart and risk-informed development planning and implementation is applied in AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land use) management and food production.


4.     Then, all these will contribute to:


1. a) sustained productivity improvement through technological progress, investments, micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) development and women’s empowerment; b) decreased disparities between urban and rural areas of the country through maximizing agricultural potential; c) reduced poverty and inequalities and enhanced livelihoods;

2. a) productive and sustainable agricultural production in conflict-affected communities; b) increased incomes among conflict-affected farmers and reduced poverty; and

3. a) improved environmental governance that enables rational and sustainable use of natural resources; b) the promotion of land degradation neutrality and the cessation of biodiversity loss, integrating biophysical and socioeconomic co-benefits to society when under strong governance.


5.     The overarching and transformative strategic priority for UNSDCF 2021–2025 is “enhanced human well-being, capabilities and equality in Georgia by 2025.” This strategic priority is associated with five outcomes in order to contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of the national development vision. FAO contributes to three of the UNSDCF outcomes, as outlined in the next section and in the CPF Results Matrix (Annex 1), which also includes the national priorities, relevant SDG targets, key partners and major assumptions under the different outcomes.


3.3 CPF intended development results 

6.     The CPF results are guided by FAO’s Strategic Framework for 2022–2031, which places the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at its centre by using the SDGs and their indicators to delineate priority areas and track progress. Guided by the lens of SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), FAO’s contributions span all SDGs, organized along four aspirations: better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life.[1] Furthermore, the FAO Regional Initiatives (RIs) in Europe and Central Asia[2] – RI-1 on empowering smallholders, family farms, and youth through inclusive rural transformation, digitalization, and innovation; RI-2 on transforming food systems and facilitating market access and integration; and RI-3 on managing natural resources sustainably and preserving biodiversity in a changing climate – act as a programmatic umbrella supporting the implementation of the country programmes in the region.


CPF Outcome 1: Disparities between urban and rural areas reduced by increasing agrifood sector productivity (UNSDCF Outcome 3: By 2025, all people, without discrimination, benefit from a sustainable, inclusive and resilient economy in Georgia) (Related SDG targets: 2.3, 2.4, 2.a, 4.3, 5.a, 9.3)


7.     The benefits of economic growth have not reached the entire population, and inequalities along social and spatial lines persist. This outcome will contribute to reducing disparities between urban and rural areas through the maximization of agricultural potential and the diversification of the economy in rural areas by enhancing productive employment and decent work, strengthening livelihoods, and ensuring better nutrition and inclusive social protection. FAO, in close collaboration with the MEPA, will particularly focus on increasing agricultural productivity and improving livelihoods in rural areas in order to reduce rural poverty. Strengthening food systems will enhance food security and nutrition for all and will cover the entire range of actors and their interlinked activities, such as the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from land and marine resources.


8.     In close cooperation with the MEPA, FAO will provide continual support to the Government of Georgia on the follow-up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit and the implementation of the national pathway, in collaboration with other UN partners.


CPF Outcome 1 will be achieved through three outputs, as follows:

CPF Output 1.1: Increased competitiveness of the agrifood sector (UNSDCF Output 3.1: Improved competitiveness and social responsibility of the private sector) (SDG targets: 2.3, 2.4, 2.a, 9.3)


9.      FAO will support increasing the competitiveness of private companies, particularly MSMEs involved in agriculture and food processing, focusing on business initiatives in rural areas in terms of technological advancement in selected clusters.  FAO will support the accumulation of data that will serve as the foundation towards the digital rural revitalization and transformation in Georgia through farmer capacity and needs assessment and assessment of existing digital technologies in the agriculture sector. In addition, FAO will work extensively to enhance the digital literacy of project stakeholders to share and promote the information via digital channels. Overall, FAO will be supporting MSMEs and contributing to the advancement of digital agriculture practices on the ground. (GCP/GEO/012/AUS; UNJP/GEO/013/EC; GCP/GEO/011/EC; TCP/GEO/3802/C1)


CPF Output 1.2: Sustainable and inclusive agricultural and rural development, strengthened food systems and improved livelihoods (UNSDCF Output 3.2) (SDG Targets 2.3., 2.4., and 2.a,5.a.)[3]


10.  FAO’s activities will contribute to the reduction of rural poverty among the targeted rural population through improved development policies and agricultural services by further promoting existing pilot activities in the field. FAO will support the MEPA and other relevant institutions in strengthening their institutional, technical and management capacities to sustainably enhance policies that foster and support the development of value chains and the sustainable competitiveness of agriculture. Policy advice to the MEPA and local municipal governments will be provided through gender-sensitive and socially inclusive rural development. In addition, FAO will help smallholders, family farms, cooperatives, producers’ groups and other rural small entrepreneurs, workers and rural households be involved on equitable terms in sustainable food value chains, with improved access to finance, inputs and services, leading to increased agriculture competitiveness and improved rural livelihoods. Investments in the food value chain will strengthen sustainable food systems. FAO will support the agricultural and rural development processes both at national and local levels through the enhancement of sustainable local food systems and, at the same time, support for inclusive growth, which will result in improved livelihoods, better access to basic services for rural communities, including for women and men and vulnerable groups in danger of being left behind. (GCP/GEO/011/EC; GCP/GEO/012/AUS)


11.  Policy support will be provided in order to enable food safety standards, better consumer protection and enhanced export opportunities under the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union. The quality and coverage of food safety inspections will increase awareness of sanitary and phytosanitary/food safety principles, and regulatory requirements among food business operators, primary producers and civil society.  FAO will design and implement an investment support component for food business operators and primary producers to address the need to improve food safety standards at farmer and food business operator levels. FAO will provide investment opportunities through matching grants, linking them with building capacity, developing business and enhancing linkages among stakeholders. Additional benefits for women residing in rural areas, youth and agricultural cooperatives will be considered in the development of grant schemes. In addition, FAO will contribute to improved export opportunities for Georgia towards both European Union and non-European Union countries through better sanitary and phytosanitary measures and food safety systems under the DCFTA, approximated with European Union standards. To facilitate the effective implementation of food safety and veterinary regulations under the DCFTA, FAO will support the organization and funding of trainings and study tours for business operators and regulatory bodies (MEPA, National Food Agency, State Laboratory of Agriculture)  (GCP /GEO/022/EC)


12.  For a more holistic approach to addressing the interconnected problem of food security and nutrition, FAO will work to mitigate hunger and malnutrition through targeted interventions. The work will aim at ensuring data-driven development and planning and improving healthy dietary intake to contribute to the achievement of Zero Hunger. (Pipeline project (PP))


13.  FAO will continue supporting the government and other stakeholders in the development of an operational national animal identification, registration and traceability system (NAITS) equipped with the new electronic system and to increase regional cooperation in the livestock sector. FAO will continue working to create leadership and ownership for the NAITS among relevant stakeholders. More proactive engagement with private sector stakeholders will be facilitated to raise private sector awareness and engage them as co-developers and co-actors in the system. FAO will work towards promoting nationwide initiatives to strengthen awareness and understanding among individual livestock owners and food-producing companies for their individual responsibilities concerning animal health, food safety, and NAITS. FAO will further share the success story of NAITS to contribute to the advancement of digital public goods in the country and in the region. (GCP/GEO/009/SWI; TCP/GEO/3703; TCP/GEO/3901/C1; GCP/GEO/021/MUL, GCP/GEO/017/SWI)


CPF Output 1.3: Increased capacities of agrifood sector stakeholders (UNSDCF Output 3.3: Increased productive employment, decent work, skills development and effective national social protection for all) (SDG target: 4.3)


14.  With FAO’s leadership, this output will continue supporting the MEPA and other relevant stakeholders in implementing the agricultural extension strategy in Georgia and in strengthening capacities to improve agricultural extension services of the Information and Consultation Centers (ICCs), with a focus on gender- and youth-related issues. Activities will focus on the needs identified under FAO’s previous projects. Special emphasis will be made on facilitating the collaboration of vocational education centres and ICCs. This will include the sharing of knowledge among ICCs and vocational education centres and the inclusion of vocational education and agricultural university students in practical activities. Additional tools, such as on-demand trainings, study tours and vocational training programmes and materials will be used. Furthermore, FAO will foster knowledge about and adoption of innovative and digital technologies, focusing on smallholders in the framework of the Digital Villages Initiative to enhance local capacities through hands-on experience. As a result of these activities, women and men farmers, including young farmers, will benefit from skill development training and extension services in order to improve their production capacity. The targeted farmers, especially smallholders and women, will gain increased knowledge and capacity as a result of extension services’ improved delivery of services.  (GCP/GEO/011/EC; GCP/GEO/012/AUS; TCP/GEO/3803)


CPF Outcome 2: Resilience of conflict-affected communities is enhanced by introducing good agricultural practices and improving farm management skills (UNSDCF Outcome 4: By 2025, conflict-affected communities enjoy human rights, enhanced human security and resilience) (Related SDG targets: 1.5, 2.3, 2.4, 2.a, 5a)


15.  One of the major challenges for Georgia is unresolved conflicts in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. The United Nations does not have the possibility of accessing Tskhinvali Region, but there are several United Nations agencies and international organizations working in Abkhazia and supporting the population on the basis of humanitarian principles. A large part of the population  in the Abkhazian territory is rural, with agriculture as their main activity. However, there are no strong extension services that can provide advice and technical knowledge to farmers, and farmers have been helpless when infestations of forest, plant and animal pests and diseases have occurred in recent years. FAO will keep supporting farming communities through the demonstration of good practices in agriculture, with a particular focus on integrated pest management and the appropriate use of pesticides. To do so, FAO is creating a network of demonstration plots and farmer field schools where smallholder farmers, livestock producers and dairy producers can increase their capacities to better fight against pests and diseases and increase the quality and quantity of their local production. FAO is partnering with UN Women in the development of the capacity of women smallholder farmers to provide quality, safe dairy products.


CPF Outcome 2 will be achieved through the following output:


CPF Output 2.1: Resilience and self-reliance of conflict-affected rural communities is improved through enhanced capacities of farmers in improved agricultural practices (UNSDCF Output 4.2: Socioeconomic conditions, community resilience, and self-reliance improved with programmes benefiting conflict-affected communities, particularly those left behind) (SDG targets: 2.4.1, 5.a)


16.  FAO will support improved agricultural practices, enhanced food security and improved nutrition for conflict-affected rural communities by ensuring the supply of agricultural inputs, effective extension support, and upgraded farming skills through farmer field schools and demonstration plots. FAO will support community-based demonstration plots and dairy farms covering all districts of Abkhazia Region. Through the farmer field school network, FAO will promote good agricultural practices – through the farmers’ lead – in site demonstrations. To increase resilience of smallholder livestock owners producing dairy products, FAO will provide emergency support through the distribution of agricultural inputs to vulnerable producers, using the farmer field school network to identify needs within the community. This COVID-19 response mechanism will support around 2000 farmers through the distribution of agricultural inputs backed with training on best practices for the safe and hygienic production of dairy products. (GCP/GEO/015/USA; GCP/GEO/018/SWI; GCP/GEO/023/SWI; UNJP/GEO/014/EC; UNJP/GEO/024/EC; GEO/18/001/01/99)


CPF Outcome 3: Climate resilience of communities and the environment is enhanced through improved environmental governance, climate action, and sustainable management and use of natural resources (UNSDCF Outcome 5: By 2025, all people, without discrimination, enjoy enhanced resilience through improved environmental governance, climate action and sustainable management and use of natural resources in Georgia) (Related SDG targets: 1.5, 2.3, 2.4, 15.3)


17.  There is a strong legal, institutional and policy framework that facilitates the rational and sustainable use of natural resources in Georgia. However, some challenges remain, including low capacities for climate risk management, disaster preparedness and functional multihazard early warning systems. Agriculture’s role in climate change adaptation and mitigation has to be enhanced, and awareness about environmental protection and climate change needs to be increased. In this context, this outcome aims to improve the governance and institutional capacity of Georgia to support the sustainable use of natural resources. Climate-sensitive, resilient and risk-informed development and the adaptation of climate-smart agricultural practices will be promoted. Throughout the programming cycle, FAO will advocate for climate-smart and risk-informed development planning and implementation in AFOLU management, food production, fisheries, ecotourism, and agricultural industries. FAO will develop methodological guidelines for climate-smart agriculture and enhanced climate-sensitive and resilient development, including the agricultural and natural resources adaptations to climate change.


CPF Outcome 3 will be achieved through the following outputs:

CPF Output 3.1: Environmental and agricultural governance and institutional capacity enhanced to enable sustainable management and use of natural resources (UNSDCF Output 5.1: Environmental governance and institutional capacity enhanced to enable rational, equitable and sustainable use of natural/land resources to ensure conservation of ecosystems and make communities more resilient to environmental shocks) (SDG target: 15.1)


18.  FAO will support the governance framework of natural resources (land, forest, terrestrial, aquatic) to ensure the conservation of ecosystems and improve social and environmental resilience to environmental shocks. FAO will contribute to the improvement of sustainable and climate-resilient management of agricultural lands, forests and protected areas, which will increase nature’s contributions to people and preserve biodiversity, including agro-biodiversity in targeted rural communities. FAO will work towards strengthening the capacities of fisheries managers and stakeholders to manage commercial fisheries, with a particular focus on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture producers. FAO will also provide support to fisheries managers for emerging monitoring, control and surveillance technologies in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Black Sea. Additionally, FAO will work with national authorities to ensure local and cross-border cooperation in addressing agricultural natural disasters, namely limiting the threat posed by locust invasions in the country and the broader region. As a result, FAO will contribute to safeguarding food security and the livelihoods of rural populations affected by locust invasions. Further, FAO will disseminate climate-smart and environmentally adapted agricultural practices and promote climate-resilient recovery in Georgia’s agricultural sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. FAO will also conduct a study to assess whether and under what preconditions pilot projects that integrate land consolidation with systemic land registration in the Irrigation and Land Market Development Project (ILMDP) in Georgia are feasible (GEF fishery project; TCP/GEO/3801; GCP/GLO/917/USA; UTF/GEO/020/GEO)

CPF Output 3.2: Climate-sensitive, resilient and risk-informed development ensured in the AFOLU and food production sectors to increase the adaptive capacities of agrifood sector stakeholders and mitigate the impacts of climate change, pursuing land degradation neutrality (UNSDCF Output 5.2: Climate-sensitive, resilient and risk-informed development ensured without discrimination in AFOLU, health, water safety, construction, energy and food production sectors to increase adaptive capacities and mitigate impacts of climate change, pursuing land degradation neutrality) (SDG targets: 1.5, 15.1, 15.2, 15.3)


19.  FAO will contribute to strengthening adaptation and mitigation capacities through the enhanced use of climate information, products and services and well-established multihazard early warning systems, including at the community level. FAO has identified several priorities for climate-smart agriculture practices, such as land use and planning, good agricultural practices (including soil management), reduction of agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and agrometeorological applications and services (including the establishment of an efficient early warning system on pests and diseases). These climate-smart agriculture practices will be mainstreamed through policy and disseminated through extension support and the raising of awareness among women and men farmers and the broader rural population. To ensure climate-sensitive, resilient and risk-informed development, FAO will develop policies and practices related to environmentally friendly agriculture and sustainable ecosystems in rural areas, based on the promotion of good agricultural practices, new environmentally friendly practices, and the establishment of demonstration plots. (GCP/GEO/012/AUS; GCP/GEO/011/EC)


20.  To mitigate impacts on climate change, FAO will contribute to the restoration of degraded land. Within the context of land degradation neutrality, Georgia aims to maintain and increase the amount of healthy and productive land resources in line with the nationalized SDGs. Georgia has also released five voluntary land degradation neutrality targets. FAO will support the implementation of two of these targets, namely the integration of land degradation neutrality principles into national policies, strategies and planning documents (Target 1) and the rehabilitation of degraded land (Target 4). FAO will support the strengthening of the enabling environment for land degradation neutrality, land use planning processes, and the security of tenure rights, with specific focus on pasturelands. This will be followed by the development of a land degradation neutrality decision support system using the proposed hierarchy of responses based on the status of land degradation and using three land degradation neutrality voluntary indicators (land cover, land productivity, and SOC) that will be piloted in the three target municipalities. (GCP/GEO/006/GFF)


CPF Output 3.3: Sustainable, climate-smart agriculture technologies and innovations used for the green economy, encompassing a clean and energy-efficient agricultural sector to enhance Georgia’s nationally determined contributions and create pathways for the decarbonization of agricultural industries (UNSDCF Output 5.3: Innovative and climate-friendly technologies used for the inclusive green economy, energy efficiency and clean energy production to enhance nationally determined contributions and support long-term decarburization strategies) (SDG target: 13.2)


21.  FAO will contribute to the implementation of climate-smart and gender-responsive technological solutions, initiatives and projects to ensure climate change adaptation and mitigation among agrifood sector stakeholders. Furthermore, FAO will enhance efforts in the decarbonization of agricultural industries to contribute to the achievement of Georgia’s NDCs as well as in the implementation of the Climate Change Strategy of Georgia for 2030, its respective Action Plan (2021–2023), and the Long-Term Low-Emission Development Strategy (LEDS). (GCF Project Pipeline)

[1] FAO. 2021. The Director-General’s Medium Term Plan 2022–25 and Programme of Work and Budget 2022–23. Forty-second Session of the FAO Conference. http://www.fao.org/3/ne576en/ne576en.pdf.

[2] More information on the FAO Regional Initiatives in Europe and Central Asia is available at http://www.fao.org/europe/regional-initiatives/en/.

[3] In the process of the formulation of output1.2, the recommendations of the Evaluation of FAO’s programme in Georgia stipulated in the Annex 14, Management response, were considered. The FAO programme evaluation was conducted in 2019.