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For Immediate Release
On Saturday, May 25 USAID’s New Economic Opportunities (NEO) Initiative and the Berry and Fruit Cultures Development Association hosted the Samegrelo Strawberry Festival in Zugdidi, Georgia. This First Annual Strawberry Festival displayed strawberries harvested in Samegrelo and served as a meeting point for strawberry buyers and sellers all over Georgia.
NEO is supporting the development of Georgia's strawberry and lettuce value chains through the introduction of modern techniques in open field and greenhouse fruit and vegetable production. To date, NEO established 10 open field strawberry demonstration farms and 11 fruit and vegetable greenhouses in the Zugdidi and Tsalenjikha municipalities.
In September and October 2012, NEO assisted 10 fruit farmers in organizing themselves into the Berry and Fruit Cultures Development Association and awarded the association members with 60,000 seedlings of three varieties of strawberries and drip irrigation systems. During the November and December 2012, the association members had their first harvest of 200 kilograms of strawberries, sold on the Zugdidi and Tsalenjikha fresh markets. The association members expect to harvest an additional 40 tons of strawberries from their 2.45 hectares of land between the months of May–June and September–December, 2013. The harvested strawberries will be sold on the fresh markets, as well as to distributors across Georgia.
In addition, in December 2012, NEO introduced its greenhouse grantees to the Georgian fruit and vegetable distributor, Ltd Eco Farm. Five greenhouse grantees proceeded to sign forward contracts with Ltd Eco Farm to produce four varieties of lettuce. NEO’s international and Georgian vegetable production experts have provided training and technical assistance in lettuce production to the greenhouse grantees throughout the production cycle. In February, the farmers planted 12,000 lettuce seedlings and since April, Ltd Eco Farm has collected more than 3,000 kilograms of lettuce from the five greenhouses, which is then cleaned, sorted, packaged and distributed to its clients in Tbilisi’s and Batumi’s hospitality industry.
NEO is funded by the U.S. Government through USAID to help Georgians access economic markets, attract investment, and identify and implement economically beneficial infrastructure projects. The project will benefit at least 70,000 rural and vulnerable households in 10 municipalities: Dusheti, Kazbegi, Kareli, Gori, Khashuri, Oni, Tsageri, Lentekhi, Zugdidi, and Tsalenjikha. The project will foster sustainable poverty reduction, improved living standards for vulnerable populations, including IDPs, and increased local government participation in addressing community needs. Through the NEO project and others, the U.S. Government supports sustainable and inclusive economic growth that benefits all Georgians.
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Last updated: April 14, 2016