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Story by Maka Kapanadze | Volunteer | Heifer Georgia
Edited by Medea Tsitskishvili | Program Director | Heifer Georgia
Photos courtesy of Heifer Georgia
Heifer Georgia held opening ceremonies for two facilities in two separate projects— fruit distribution and agricultural distribution—this month. The Subtropical Fruit Collection Center in Batumi, West Georgia, was celebrated on December 10, 2012, and the Information and Agri-Distributional Center in Tbilisi opened on December 11.
The opening ceremony in Batumi was attended by Archile Khabadze, chairman of the government of Ajara; Giorgi Tavartkiladze, minister of finance and economy; Zaur Putkaradze, minister of agriculture; and other authorities. Staff from local press and TV covered the event.
The government of the region of Ajara donated 1.5 acres of land with an old building to the project initiated by Heifer Georgia. The full rehabilitation and equipping of the building was done through co-financing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland (Polish Aid) and Heifer International. The center will help smallholder farmers to process and market their subtropical fruits.
The building has a moisture-resistant interior and is equipped with fruit-labeling and box-packaging machines. The building also boasts a 40-foot refrigerator-trailer. The facility will have five permanent and 15 seasonal employees and tends to attract customers from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Citrus will be consolidated, labeled and packaged according to the contractors’ requests. It will significantly improve customer-service quality, which will have a positive influence on the marketing process.
On the following day, Heifer Georgia held the inauguration of the project co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland (Polish Aid) and the Information and Agri-Distributional Center in Tbilisi. Beneficiaries of this project and smallholder farmers throughout Georgia will have access to high-value retail markets in Tbilisi directly, bypassing the middle man.
In the framework of this project, a building of 191 square yards with a 359-square-yard backyard was purchased and reconstructed. A cooling room (set at -20 degrees Celsius) with a capacity of almost 50 square feet and a dry room with rust-resistant shelves are in the basement. The center is equipped with counter refrigerators and vacuum-packaging and dry-packaging machines, and an eight-ton minivan refrigerator. The center will have five permanent employees.
This ceremony was attended by Stephen M. Haykin, mission director at USAID; Rudolf Schoch, regional director of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC); Hiroki Tokunaga, deputy head of Mission of the Embassy of Japan; representatives of the Embassy of Poland; and other representatives of international organizations.