Story and Photos by Medea Tsitskishvili | Program Director | Heifer Georgia
On April 1, 2013, Heifer Georgia celebrated the opening of the Community Based Agricultural Machinery Service Providing Center in Sabue village, Kvareli municipality, Georgia. The new center procured a 110 horsepower tractor, seven agricultural machines, a hangar to house the machines and an office building.
The project was funded by the government of Japan's Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Program and complements Heifer Georgia's current hog project, which assists the Charity House Network in the Kvareli municipality. The total budget of the Japanese grant was $118,845.
The opening celebration was attended by Hiroki Tokunaga, Charge d'Affaires ad interim, local authorities and smallholder farmers, and representatives from the Embassy of Japan in Georgia, the Ministry of Agriculture and Heifer Georgia partner organizations.
On behalf of Heifer staff and local farmers, Heifer Georgia's Country Director George Murvanidze opened the ceremony by thanking the government and people of Japan for their financial support. He said the surrounding villages of Kvareli had lacked the machinery needed to expand farming activities, but now the project will ensure development and economic sustainability.
The new machines will enable local smallholder farmers to conduct the entire cycle of agricultural activities, including land preparation, cultivation and precise planting, in a timely manner, which will increase harvests and incomes.
After the machines were surveyed, Tokunaga shared his gratitude for Heifer Georgia and other parties for making the project a reality and thanked Heifer Georgia, in particular, for the trustworthy and fruitful partnership aimed at alleviating poverty and making a difference for many smallholder farmers. Tokunaga expressed his hope for future cooperation between Japan's grant program and Heifer Georgia to benefit rural Georgian communities.
The event continued with speeches from the governor of the Kakheti region and representatives of Georgia's Ministry of Agriculture, who thanked the Embassy of Japan for its constant support and Heifer Georgia for striving toward better conditions for smallholder farmers. The ceremony closed with a celebration dinner.