CIVICS/Lagodekhi Case Study

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Impression of the buffer zone
Village bordering the national park

Lagodekhi is a town of about 7,000 inhabitants in Georgia's Kaheti province. It borders Azerbeijan in the East, and the Russian territory of Dagestan in the North. Lagodekhi is home to the oldest national parks in Georgia. 12 villages are located at the so-called buffer zone of the national park, including about 3000 households.


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Information on Lagedekhi National Park and Conservation Managed Area

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The present reference book deals with the customs and traditions of the gateway communities of Vashlovani and Lagodekhi Protected Areas founded under the auspices of the law passed by the Parliament of Georgia in 2003 with facilitation of “Georgia’s Protected Areas Development Project” supported by the World Bank and Global Environment Facility.

Development strategy 2009-2014 for Kakheti Province

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  • supported by UNDP: online available
  • the text below consists mainly of selected direct quotes from the document. The quotes are indicated by Italics. In the source text (editing view), the extent of the single quotes can be seen. Omissions are indicated by (...) elipses. Bold fact added for emphasis.

Main Vision

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  • Kakheti Region will become recognized by the world as a “motherland” region of wine, with growing wine clusters and successful exports. and
  • By 2014, Kakheti will become a leading region in Georgia’s cultural and economic development, supported by a hospitality infrastructure – hotels, restaurants, networks of café-bars, tour operators, as well as regional and international events.

Region description and SWOT analyis

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  • The Kakheti lowlands are not rich in forest resources. Forest areas are becoming more extensive towards Caucasus and Tusheti. Timber production is growing in certain areas of Kakheti, such as Akhmeta; effective use of forest resources is vital. Uncontrolled use of forest resources, especially at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, has increased the risks of floods. This is especially true of the Alazani River Basin, where severe results are already felt
    Kakheti has the highest ratio of fertile agriculture lands to the entire land resources and area per population in the country. Kakheti has also traditionally been the country’s cereal production region. It is responsible for half of the total lands under wheat and the largest share of the wheat produced in the country. Beekeeping may be considered one of the region’s priorities, because it is rich with forests, flowers and fields under crops, which provide it with adequate resources.
    Kakheti is famous for its protected territories, Vashlovani, Batsara-Babaneuri, Lagodekhi and Chachuna, which were created to preserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. Vashlovani and Tusheti National Parks as well as Lagodekhi Reserve play a critical role in developing its tourism industry.
    Today, around 65–70 percent of all vineyards in Georgia are concentrated in Kakheti Region. Production vineyards giving the best wines are located in the basins of Alazani and Iori Rivers, at 400-700 m altitude.

Lagodekhi mentioned

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  • Most of the irrigated areas are thus used for melons and vegetables production, with Signagi, Sagarejo, Kvareli and Lagodekhi being the leading producers. Lagodekhi, Signagi and Gurjaani are the main vegetable-producing municipalities due to their climatic conditions and the availability of irrigation water.
  • Cattle: .Sagarejo, Lagodekhi and Akhmeta are the leading municipalities within Kakheti in this regard. Lagodekhi, Sagarejo and Akhmeta are the largest milk producers in the Kakheti Region (...). However, milk yield remains low at 1.2 tonnes per cow per year. Animal productivity could be increased through improved feed management and quality veterinary services, breed improvement and calving management to smoothen the seasonality of milk production.
  • Pigs: according to 2005 data, the leading producers were Kvareli, Telavi, Akhmeta and Lagodekhi. In these four municipalities, forest resources are used for swine feed. (...) In 2007, the number of pigs significantly decreased in Kakheti due to the spread of Montgomery’s disease.
  • Kakheti has a long tradition of 'sheep raising, and (..) it is the region with the largest number of sheep in the country. Favourable conditions for sheep production in Kakheti are the availability of winter and summer pasturelands. Sheep and goats are present in all municipalities (...). Akhmeta and Sagarejo are first among Kakheti Municipalities in producing lamb, sheep milk and wool, emphasizing the importance of this sector to the local economy.
  • Sagarejo and Lagodekhi Municipalities are the leading municipalities of the region in the poultry industry.
  • Viticulture The highest yields of Saperavi were in Akhmeta, Telavi, Gurjaani, Sagarejo and Kvareli, and the lowest in Lagodekhi and Signagi. The estimated area under the new vineyards is around 5,000 ha with estimated investments of US$40–55 million, assuming that 1 ha requires around US$8,000–11,000. This process has not been significant in Akhmeta, Signagi, Sagarejo, Lagodekhi and Dedoplistskaro Municipalities, where vine growing is not a leading sector.
  • As of 1 August 2007, the total capacity of hotels in support territories of the Vashlovani, Tusheti, Batsara-Babaneuri and Lagodekhi was only 237 places, which was far below demand. In general, Kakheti Region has the lowest gross and per capita turnover of hotels and restaurants. The same is true for the growth rate of the hospitality sector. There is also some potential, though underused and fragmented, in Tusheti and Lagodekhi and Vashlovani Reserves.
  • ANNEX: Lagodekhi Municipality: Baisubani Wine Factory, large-scale, old factory.

"Priotity Directions" & "Priorities"

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  • "Priotity Directions" (Environment) 2. Preventing uncontrolled usage of the forest resources for the Caucasian foothills and seeking funding for Duruji River bank reconstruction.
  • "Overall Priotities":
  1. Setting up food processing enterprises: Processing of fruits and vegetables; setting up milk collection centres and cheese and butter production plants; ensuring accessibility of financial resources (low interest rate and subsidized loans, grants) for small entrepreneurs.
  2. Supporting agriculture development: Supporting the wine and vine sectors, organizing agricultural extension services, facilitating farmers’ cooperation, providing support to the animal husbandry sector (breed improvement, feed production, veterinary services, among others).
  3. Drinking Water
  4. Developing tourism
  5. Garbage and Waste Management

Current Projects

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People of the buffer zone

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Lagodekhi has no traditional buffer zone, but a de facto one. 12 villages with about 3000 households are located in this zone. Prestudy visits have shown that the region has a better infrastructure and utility grid support, than Lake Arpi and Samtskhe-Javakheti even so poverty is high. Mobility connection is quite adequate and there are possibilities to find jobs outside agriculture. Traditional activities in Lagodekhi are corn production and animal husbandry, but families do also often have home gardens, where fruits and nuts are produced. Very little communal pasture land is existing in the region and farmers see their chances for investing limited. Visits have shown furthermore that wives are often not living with their families and are working aboard for support.