Project description / objective
Alliances Caucasus 2 will work to increase incomes and improve livelihoods for rural producers through better, sustainable productivity, resilient market access, local employment opportunities and more equitable inclusion in local natural resource use.
Alliances began in pilot form in 2008 impacting over half a million small scale livestock producers in Georgia and Armenia. The ALCP2 will build on over a decade of impact, networks, experience, thought leadership and materials’ development.
It aims to reach 20,000 rural producers, generating tangible positive income changes of USD $3.15 million (direct) / $0.33 million (indirect). The target for net attributable income for employee, business and SME financing is USD $6.92 million.
Market systems focus
The majority of smallholder farmers in Georgia own cows in non-intensive, predominantly grass-fed systems. Producing milk is the most economically and environmentally-relevant sector for women - 82 per cent have direct agency over its sale. (see Better Cheese Better Work).
The ALCP has worked in this sector since 2008 - from basic inputs to food safety and hygiene compliance and improved production in SME’s - and added value through a quality assurance mark and auditing system, the Georgian Milk Mark. Export to the US has become a major market and Georgian Milk Mark (GMM) member factories have exported 100 Tonnes of cheese since 2017.
ALCP2's current main focus is to improve SME sustainability and competitiveness by combatting unfair trade, competition and value addition.
A significant proportion of rural households produce honey for additional income. Honey and beekeeping can make use of the incredible biodiversity in Georgia - 75 per cent of land is mountainous, untouched by improved or intensive farming techniques.
Since 2014 ALCP has been improving the quality of Georgian honey through sectoral initiatives including: regulations on use of antibiotics; laboratory testing; export functions; branding and promotion; development of a flagship wild honey organic certified product ‘Jara’; developing specialised modules for VET courses in beekeeping; and improving processing capability for entry point factories for bulk, brand and niche export to the US, Gulf states, Europe and Japan.
ALCP2 will build on this by extending bio-certification services, sustainably increasing export volume and building an improved international image of diversified bee products for export.
Georgian traditional ‘Lori’ bacon produced from foraging, forest-reared pigs, in two regions of Georgia is an important method of both promoting and protecting what is fundamentally an environmentally sustainable, non-intensive and culturally important product. Regional product development focussing on added value is a main component of the project within the livestock system.
Georgia is famous for its biodiversity and numerous wild botanicals (plants) are valued for their medicinal and herbal properties. Women, the elderly, and often youth are predominantly responsible for picking wild botanicals which are sold to collectors who then sell on to either domestic or international markets through factories in Georgia.
The market has potential for growth. However environmental sustainability, responsible resource use and ethical sourcing must also be factored in whilst also enhancing the livelihoods of the pickers who are vulnerable both to new regulations concerning natural resource use and the power asymmetry and lack of transparency in the value chain.
Georgia has valuable indigenous breeds of silkworm and was once one of the predominant silk producers in the world. It is a high-value industry that used to provide very seasonal, but significant, income to rural households producing silk cocoons from worms fed with mulberry leaves. The mulberry is a fairly drought-resistant tree which grows all over Georgia. However, the industry collapsed with the end of the Soviet Union and despite some state infrastructure remaining, the practice itself has almost died out. There is real interest in developing an environmentally sustainable value-chain for rural producers which could tap into the considerable rural tourism market.
With the advantage of over a decade of programming the ALCP2 has been able to identify cross-cutting themes applicable to all sectors, including:
- access to climate-smart information
- skills and inputs
- support to functioning and sustainable industry associations
- emphasis on equitable natural resource use for rural citizens
- Facilitate fair terms of trade advocacy and regulation with trade organisations, dairy and other enterprises and supermarkets.
- Further expansion of the Georgian Milk Mark and dairy industry association functionality.
- Facilitate improved outreach and affordability of bio-certification - increasing bio product range offer, including organic beeswax .
- Re-establishment and breeding of Caucasian grey bee for Georgian bee and honey industry development and export.
Facilitating the development of a regional model for the development and promotion of Racheuli Lori (bacon), including a multi-stakeholder advisory and producer group, production standards and processing infrastructure.
Facilitate processors to increase efficient processing capacity of ethically sourced and equitably collected wild botanicals.
Develop a pilot model for cocoon production for rural producers in the craft and rural tourism markets.
- Facilitation of national heritage product development and regional product development and promotion, including silk, honey, bacon and dairy products.
- Facilitate a VET college network to improve access to, and delivery of, skills to rural producers and MSME's and improve targeted skills for relevant value chains in honey and dairy as well as rural processing and rural tourism management skills.
- Further development of regional and eastern partnership agri-journalism initiatives, including development of online agri-info hubs with an emphasis on climate-smart tech and sustainable environmental topics.
- Facilitate the improvement of the Georgian Beekeepers Union, Georgian Milk Federation, Jara Beekeepers Association information and technical services to members.
- Facilitate affordable outreach of climate-smart technologies to rural producers and MSME’s.
- Use Women’s Room Hubs to facilitate business planning and access financing for women (and men), youth start-ups and MSMEs.
- Facilitate development of environmentally sustainable rural hubs e.g. Goderdzi Alpine Garden.
- Facilitation of local self-government for improved transparency and efficiency of local natural resource management and use, and improved knowledge and use of natural resources by rural producers and local businesses e.g. usufruct rights, recycling, waste management, community forestry, rural tourism development, development of protected areas.
- Facilitation of regional conservation actors for development of future vision of sustainable rural development.
Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)
The programme has just started. Results will be added in due course.
[uploaded October 2022]