Nine years ago, farmer Guram Dzirkvadze from the Georgian village of Dioknisi, which is located at an altitude of 1180 metres above sea level, was engaged in the cultivation of 15 grape varieties when he decided to grow berry crops as well. Thanks to the help from an EU-supported project called Khulo Local Action Group (LAG), Mr. Dzirkvadze received a grant, advisory services, and technical assistance. Today, he is successfully developing his berry farm.
“At first, my wife and I faced many obstacles, but we were able to overcome them step-by-step. In the initial stage, we received not only theoretical knowledge but also practical experience from the European Union. We attended various training at young farms set up in Eastern Georgia and collected information. As a result of the knowledge and experience we gained over the years, we can safely say that we are considered experts in the region, which, of course, is a great responsibility,” Guram Dzirkvadze notes.
Today, his raspberry farm is one of 73 projects funded by Khulo LAG. “Khulo has grown a lot, civic awareness has increased, and citizens are more actively involved in the development of the municipality. Today, the group has 65 people and everyone is trying to benefit their municipality,” says one of the members of Khulo LAG Aslan Tunadze.
From the very beginning, the Dzirkvadze family realized that it was necessary to share the experience they gained with other people since the climatic and soil conditions of alpine Adjara make it possible to obtain a high-quality harvest at a minimal cost. Therefore, they began to distribute seedlings, which contributed to the development of the activities of their fellow villagers. Today, thanks to Khulo LAG and the Dzirkvadze family, 48 local families are engaged in this business, writes BPN.
“There is little land in Khulo and therefore, it is better to produce grain than to grow potatoes. In addition, based on local climatic conditions, we do not have to process the harvest; our product is environmentally friendly. All this encourages us to gain a foothold in the market and we succeed. By October, we have become 100% suppliers to the Adjarian market. With the support of the European Union, we were able to carry out branding and the sale of products for many hundreds of kilometres using a refrigerated truck. The truck is necessary to reduce production losses and preserve the presentation so that in the end we are in compliance with hygiene and food safety standards and can deliver products to the buyer,” says Mr. Dzirkvadze.
As part of the EU-funded project with the participation of Khulo LAG, an irrigation system has been installed to optimize necessary resources. Producers take pride in offering the best quality berry to their customers. According to Guram Dzirkvadze, without the support of the European Union, his business could not have received stable development.
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