Posted on August 25, 2009 by Chelsea Coakley, Program Analyst, Department of Compact Implementation
Millennium Challenge Georgia Fund
Upon landing in Tbilisi, Georgia, I had over an hour to prepare for our teams departure for the opening of a new greenhouse complex, so far the largest grantee of MCC’s Agribusiness Development Activity (ADA) in Georgia, which provides grants for small- to medium-sized farmers to access modern farming supplies and increase agricultural productivity. We drove four hours into west-central Georgia to participate in the opening ceremony with Georgian government representatives, municipal authorities, and staff from Millennium Challenge Georgia Fund (MCG). The event was as welcoming as the project was innovative, and I felt honored to be part of this much-anticipated day.
Mr. Zurab Janelidze, who invested more than $450,000 to match $299,736 in MCG grant funding, developed his vision for Herbia LLC, a comprehensive system for greenhouse production and distribution of fresh herbs and vegetables. Herbia was established on two hectares of land in the rural Georgian town of Tskaltubo and is linked to an existing cold storage facility one of the few in rural Georgia - that also has the capacity to pack, store, export, and cater to local demand. Mr. Janelidzes strategy will serve as an example for high-value agricultural production in Georgia, while earning substantial revenues from the export of fresh culinary herbs and greenhouse tomato production, which will be sold domestically. The enterprise will also purchase fresh herbs from small farmers in the area to augment its own production, packing, and exporting. Upon touring Herbia LLC, its potential to make a positive impact in the Imereti region was evident as I walked through several greenhouses and saw many local workers picking produce.
I also visited multiple phases of the MCC-funded Energy Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project in the Mtskheta Tianeti region. This project is rehabilitating an essential source of energy for the people of Georgia, which, at over 2,200 meters at times, is one of the worlds top three highest-elevation pipelines, making rehabilitation efforts not only challenging but also absolutely critical due to the remote nature of these repairs.
The Energy Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project is an exemplary case of true country-led development, as all phases of this project have been implemented by a Georgian company. The Georgian Oil and Gas Company currently operates the pipeline on the governments behalf and has been responsible for the design and supervision of the entire project. Improved management of the pipeline, together with MCC investments for repairs, have already resulted in a decline in gas leakage, which means increasingly reliable access to natural gas for Georgian citizens and their enterprises.
Distance creates a clearer perspective on experiences. Now back in Washington, I am able to reflect on my recent trip to the field and can say I feel privileged to have observed these transformative projects in person. It was truly exciting to witness the focused energy and enthusiasm of the Georgians at work on a daily basis. It is clear that MCCs partnership with the Government of Georgia is highly valued and will continue generating positive results.