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09.10.2017

"I can now say with full confidence that we are well prepared, technically and operationally, to counter and combat even most hazardous infections in every village in the Imereti Region." Zaal Natriashvili, the head of Imereti Veterinary Association.

Livelihood, for the majority of the rural population in Georgia, is associated with agricultural activities. Cattle breeding and smallholder farms are the main sources of household income. Despite the importance of cattle-breeding, supervision and healthcare of the domesticated animals are poor. Farmers try to get maximum results with minimum expenses and this is reflected in the negligence of basic veterinary issues and results in inadequate care and a lack of preventative maintenance practices.

 

Infrequently, farmers will seek optional, private vaccinations while applying other preventive measures on their own, without veterinary supervision. They will independently purchase medicines. They consider themselves to be well aware of veterinary issues and only resort to the assistance of professional veterinarians in emergency cases. The results are sick and diseased cattle with a high mortality rate.

 

Most developed countries understand the underlying issues and focus on the front-end issues of prevention of diseases and pathological conditions. Most Georgian farmers engage the problem from the opposite end and are engaged in fighting against the outcomes of the disease.

 

Meanwhile, the State has neither financial nor human resources to take full responsibility for solving these problems. It limits itself with just financing vaccinations of human-transmitted diseases in cattle. It leaves veterinary associations and other organizations specialized in this field as the only actors to solve this longstanding problem of Georgian farmers.

 

The Imereti Veterinary Association is among very few veterinary organizations operating in the Imereti region. The Association is composed of private-practice veterinary specialists in the field of animal treatment, prevention measures, drug treatment, and supervision over livestock slaughter, laboratory activities and food safety. Since 2014, the Association has been providing farmers with veterinary consultations and technical services. At the same time, it has been active in raising farmers' awareness about cattle diseases and, generally, in promoting the development of private veterinary services in the region. But, in spite of their high motivation and hard work, they cannot cover the entire Imereti region. Their coverage is limited because of lack of staff and transportation, as a result, they can only reach the few villages that have the most urgent needs for support.

 

Zviad Natriashvili is the head of Imereti Veterinary Association. He is also a well-known Georgian agricultural expert who, together with the board of directors, has been actively working to find financial resources for purchasing basic equipment that would allow them to expand their area of work.

 

"We needed money for purchasing modern veterinary equipment that would allow us to cover all the farmers who needed our support. This equipment would be a prerequisite for increasing household income for the cattle-dependent farmers. We were aware that state funding was inaccessible, as the Government focused only on preventing human-transmitted cattle diseases.  So, we had two more or less realistic options. The first option was financially risky bank loans. The second was an NGO grant", says Zviad Natriashvili.

 

In 2015, with the financial support from the European Union and the Czech Development Agency, People in Need (PIN) started implementing a Vocational Education Development Project. The aim of the project was to promote formal and informal vocational education in agriculture in Imereti region. The organization had a very clear image of the farmers' problems in the rural areas of Imereti.

 

"We were well aware that infectious cattle diseases were causing big troubles. When meeting with farmers in every village, we heard one and the same story: that at least once a year, an infectious disease outbreak was absolutely inevitable and that farmers were trying to stand against it independently. Though the efforts were in vain, as they had no adequate veterinary knowledge and skills. At the same time, approaching veterinarians for professional support was not a common option for farmers in Imereti. Conditions convinced us to announce a call for supporting veterinary organizations that would work to raise awareness of farmers, train veterinarians and, generally, popularize private veterinary services," says Giorgi Santuryan, Manager of the Project.

 

The Grant decision was made speedily. Soon, the project "Awareness Raising Campaign for Cattle Farmers" that was submitted by the Imereti Veterinary Association was approved for funding.

The project enabled the Association to reach 29 villages in 11 municipalities. They started working in Tkibuli, Khoni, Vani, Kharagauli, Sachkhere, Samtredia, Tchiatura, Baghdati, Terjola, Tskaltubo and the Zestaponi Municipalities. As a result, more than 1000 farmers and veterinarians were provided with appropriate training and educational materials on various cattle diseases and primary treatment. Along with the trainings, the Association distributed pesticides and medicines to farmers for internal and external cattle parasites.

 

The Association also supported Turkish Meskhetians, who are living in the village of Ianeti, in the Samtredia Municipality, and represent an under-served ethnic minority in Georgia.

 

"For Turkish Meskhetians, cattle farming is the only income source so our support was vitally important for them," says Zviad Natriashvili.

 

In spite of the positive results, the process of working with the farmers was quite challenging for the Imereti Veterinarians Association. A lack of knowledge and skills was combined with initial scepticism among farmers to learn something new and adopt new methodologies.

 

Davit Jangavadze, a farmer from Khoni, expressed his concerns and worries at the time. "We had constant fears of the Spring season, as this is the time of year when most of the hazardous infectious diseases such as Mastitis, Brucellosis, African Fever start spreading. We were totally unprotected. We didn't have the proper knowledge to combat these infections. My neighbours and I were committed to old methods to stand against these infections and even though we mostly failed, we continued sticking to these methods because we didn't believe that better approaches existed. For a long time, we even thought that it was impossible to fight or avoid these diseases. Frankly speaking, when I was invited to the training of the Imereti Veterinary Association, I wasn't convinced that I should attend it. My negative approach changed as soon as I tried the techniques described during the training and got positive results."

 

Farmers thought that support of professional veterinarians was an extra, senseless expense. But during the training, the agricultural experts clearly explained to farmers that use of services of a professional veterinarian is cost-effective, namely that the cost of a loss of cattle could be significantly higher than fees for the veterinary services. The farmers saw that veterinarians were trained by well-known experts and that increased their trust in them. As a result, over the course of one year, the number of farmers that used veterinary services increased significantly.

 

"Prior to the trainings and despite the various infectious outbreaks and the importance of our support, most of the days we had nothing to do, as very few farmers were using our services. As for now, yes, the situation isn't perfect. However, I see a positive trend as more and more farmers are approaching us for consultations and support," says Gela Jgharkava, a veterinarian from Samtredia.

 

This success has become a motivation for PIN to fund other projects for the association, this time in the framework of ENPARD program. The Project "Arrangement of high-quality and comprehensive service centres for farmers in the Imereti region" will set up a network of small veterinary centres in the Imereti Region where modern and high-quality services will be offered to farmers. Association service centres will be launched in three municipalities of Imereti region, namely Zestafoni, Tskaltubo and Khoni. Each centre will provide farmers with the following types of services: prevention of diseases among agricultural animals, anti-parasitic vaccination, animal treatment, surgical operations, castration, sterilization and artificial insemination.

 

Zaal Natriashvili sums it up best. "I can now say with full confidence that we are well prepared, technically and operationally, to counter and combat even most hazardous infections in every village in the Imereti Region."

 

Author: Ramaz Chichinadze

l activities. Cattle breeding and smallholder farms are the main sources of household income. Despite the importance of cattle-breeding, supervision and healthcare of the domesticated animals are poor. Farmers try to get maximum results with minimum expenses and this is reflected in the negligence of basic veterinary issues and results in inadequate care and a lack of preventative maintenance practices.

 

Infrequently, farmers will seek optional, private vaccinations while applying other preventive measures on their own, without veterinary supervision. They will independently purchase medicines. They consider themselves to be well aware of veterinary issues and only resort to the assistance of professional veterinarians in emergency cases. The results are sick and diseased cattle with a high mortality rate.

 

Most developed countries understand the underlying issues and focus on the front-end issues of prevention of diseases and pathological conditions. Most Georgian farmers engage the problem from the opposite end and are engaged in fighting against the outcomes of the disease.

 

Meanwhile, the State has neither financial nor human resources to take full responsibility for solving these problems. It limits itself with just financing vaccinations of human-transmitted diseases in cattle. It leaves veterinary associations and other organizations specialized in this field as the only actors to solve this longstanding problem of Georgian farmers.

 

The Imereti Veterinary Association is among very few veterinary organizations operating in the Imereti region. The Association is composed of private-practice veterinary specialists in the field of animal treatment, prevention measures, drug treatment, and supervision over livestock slaughter, laboratory activities and food safety. Since 2014, the Association has been providing farmers with veterinary consultations and technical services. At the same time, it has been active in raising farmers' awareness about cattle diseases and, generally, in promoting the development of private veterinary services in the region. But, in spite of their high motivation and hard work, they cannot cover the entire Imereti region. Their coverage is limited because of lack of staff and transportation, as a result, they can only reach the few villages that have the most urgent needs for support.

 

Zviad Natriashvili is the head of Imereti Veterinary Association. He is also a well-known Georgian agricultural expert who, together with the board of directors, has been actively working to find financial resources for purchasing basic equipment that would allow them to expand their area of work.

 

"We needed money for purchasing modern veterinary equipment that would allow us to cover all the farmers who needed our support. This equipment would be a prerequisite for increasing household income for the cattle-dependent farmers. We were aware that state funding was inaccessible, as the Government focused only on preventing human-transmitted cattle diseases.  So, we had two more or less realistic options. The first option was financially risky bank loans. The second was an NGO grant", says Zviad Natriashvili.

 

In 2015, with the financial support from the European Union and the Czech Development Agency, People in Need (PIN) started implementing a Vocational Education Development Project. The aim of the project was to promote formal and informal vocational education in agriculture in Imereti region. The organization had a very clear image of the farmers' problems in the rural areas of Imereti.

 

"We were well aware that infectious cattle diseases were causing big troubles. When meeting with farmers in every village, we heard one and the same story: that at least once a year, an infectious disease outbreak was absolutely inevitable and that farmers were trying to stand against it independently. Though the efforts were in vain, as they had no adequate veterinary knowledge and skills. At the same time, approaching veterinarians for professional support was not a common option for farmers in Imereti. Conditions convinced us to announce a call for supporting veterinary organizations that would work to raise awareness of farmers, train veterinarians and, generally, popularize private veterinary services," says Giorgi Santuryan, Manager of the Project.

 

The Grant decision was made speedily. Soon, the project "Awareness Raising Campaign for Cattle Farmers" that was submitted by the Imereti Veterinary Association was approved for funding.

The project enabled the Association to reach 29 villages in 11 municipalities. They started working in Tkibuli, Khoni, Vani, Kharagauli, Sachkhere, Samtredia, Tchiatura, Baghdati, Terjola, Tskaltubo and the Zestaponi Municipalities. As a result, more than 1000 farmers and veterinarians were provided with appropriate training and educational materials on various cattle diseases and primary treatment. Along with the trainings, the Association distributed pesticides and medicines to farmers for internal and external cattle parasites.

 

The Association also supported Turkish Meskhetians, who are living in the village of Ianeti, in the Samtredia Municipality, and represent an under-served ethnic minority in Georgia.

 

"For Turkish Meskhetians, cattle farming is the only income source so our support was vitally important for them," says Zviad Natriashvili.

 

In spite of the positive results, the process of working with the farmers was quite challenging for the Imereti Veterinarians Association. A lack of knowledge and skills was combined with initial scepticism among farmers to learn something new and adopt new methodologies.

 

Davit Jangavadze, a farmer from Khoni, expressed his concerns and worries at the time. "We had constant fears of the Spring season, as this is the time of year when most of the hazardous infectious diseases such as Mastitis, Brucellosis, African Fever start spreading. We were totally unprotected. We didn't have the proper knowledge to combat these infections. My neighbours and I were committed to old methods to stand against these infections and even though we mostly failed, we continued sticking to these methods because we didn't believe that better approaches existed. For a long time, we even thought that it was impossible to fight or avoid these diseases. Frankly speaking, when I was invited to the training of the Imereti Veterinary Association, I wasn't convinced that I should attend it. My negative approach changed as soon as I tried the techniques described during the training and got positive results."

 

Farmers thought that support of professional veterinarians was an extra, senseless expense. But during the training, the agricultural experts clearly explained to farmers that use of services of a professional veterinarian is cost-effective, namely that the cost of a loss of cattle could be significantly higher than fees for the veterinary services. The farmers saw that veterinarians were trained by well-known experts and that increased their trust in them. As a result, over the course of one year, the number of farmers that used veterinary services increased significantly.

 

"Prior to the trainings and despite the various infectious outbreaks and the importance of our support, most of the days we had nothing to do, as very few farmers were using our services. As for now, yes, the situation isn't perfect. However, I see a positive trend as more and more farmers are approaching us for consultations and support," says Gela Jgharkava, a veterinarian from Samtredia.

 

This success has become a motivation for PIN to fund other projects for the association, this time in the framework of ENPARD program. The Project "Arrangement of high-quality and comprehensive service centres for farmers in the Imereti region" will set up a network of small veterinary centres in the Imereti Region where modern and high-quality services will be offered to farmers. Association service centres will be launched in three municipalities of Imereti region, namely Zestafoni, Tskaltubo and Khoni. Each centre will provide farmers with the following types of services: prevention of diseases among agricultural animals, anti-parasitic vaccination, animal treatment, surgical operations, castration, sterilization and artificial insemination.

 

Zaal Natriashvili sums it up best. "I can now say with full confidence that we are well prepared, technically and operationally, to counter and combat even most hazardous infections in every village in the Imereti Region."

 

Author: Ramaz Chichinadze

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