Digital technology expands learning opportunities for farmers

UNDP and Switzerland help modernise agricultural extension in Georgia

Posted March 5, 2021

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Thousands of farmers across Georgia will benefit from a modernised system of consultation and training, known as agricultural extension, presented today by the Rural Development Agency (RDA) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA).

A package of reforms is focused on new learning opportunities for farmers, closer cooperation with civil society and the private sector, and the increased functions of Farmers’ Consultation Boards that are tasked to identify emerging needs and negotiate solutions with local governments.     

“Our farmers and entrepreneurs need access to modern knowledge and technology to produce competitive products and effectively respond to the challenges faced by the agricultural sector. The modernised agricultural extension that was created with the support of our partner international organizations clearly shows these opportunities. It allows finding speedy solutions to all emerging issues and hosts information that is vital for people working in agriculture,” said First Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture Giorgi Khanishvili.

Many of the reforms presented today have been designed, tested and set in motion in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under their wider support to vocational education and training in agriculture.

One of the initiatives supported by UNDP and SDC is a brand-new digital platform for farmers that will be launched in 2021.

Offering farmers easy access to online training and an electronic library, the digital platform is packed with training courses and information materials prepared by the RDA, UNDP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

It also helps to speedily address farmers’ needs, answer their questions, plan training activities and send important messages as well as record meteorological and climate events and statistical data.

The digital platform is being piloted in four regions – Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Samtskhe Javakheti, Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti and Guria – to become fully operational by the end of the year.

As part of their support, UNDP and SDC will help improve the digital infrastructure of the agricultural extension centres in these four regions and equip extension officers with smartphones and tablets.

“Switzerland is proud to support Georgia in developing a strong agricultural sector that meets market demand and operates in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way,” said Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus. “Educated and informed farmers are the key to the success of this reform.”

“Knowledge is key to transforming agriculture into a high-value sector and improving incomes in rural areas of Georgia,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “By incorporating digital tools into the extension system, our support helps give farmers access to up-to-date information even in remote regions.”

UNDP and SDC have been supporting vocational education and training in agriculture for over a decade, assisting Georgia to introduce new learning methods, train teachers and consultants, and link professional colleges with higher educational institutions and the private sector. This support contributed to the establishment of the agricultural extension service in 2013 which now operates nine regional offices and 45 information centres across the country.

Media contacts: