In the Djavakheti mountain massif – Lesser Caucasus – in Georgia, many farmers have problems with access to veterinary care. Fert and its partner, the GDBC, are helping the Ertoba association and its member farmers and cooperatives to organize themselves to implement local solutions. In 2020, two initiatives were developed.

Difficult access to veterinary services: a Georgian reality

A 2016 survey shows that only 8-14% of Georgian farmers have access to local veterinary services and only 5-8% use appropriate products. The cattle are often too thin, suffer from disease and have high mortality rates.

Ertoba association

27 villages

81 farmers who are members of the association

930 farmers benefiting from GDBC’s technical services

There are several reasons for this: a lack of local shops, few, poor quality and badly conserved drugs available, but above all a shortage of veterinarians ready to advise, prescribe and administer cow care. Another reason is the past. In Soviet times, veterinarians were state employees and worked in all herds. Since independence, veterinarians who have become liberals have difficulty being paid by farmers who are used to the free service so they prefer not to be involved.

However, access to veterinary care is essential. The farmers who are members of Ertoba, an association of dairy farmers in the Lesser Caucasus, have therefore decided to mobilize.

Cooperation between farmers and a local veterinarian

The cooperative of Dertseli, a member of Ertoba, decided to take over the veterinary services for its 15 member farmers and their 167 cows. In June 2020, they partnered with a former state veterinarian, living in the village, while keeping the support of the GBDC veterinarian. The cooperative buys and stores medicines and when members need it, they call on the local veterinarian who is paid by the cooperative. In return, a levy is collected from the weekly milk payment. The GBDC veterinarian liaises with the local veterinarian for the supply of medicines and provides training to farmers on preventive measures and animal care.

Dertseli cooperative

The Dertseli cooperative organizes the collection and transformation of the milk of the village’s 15 farmers. Since its creation in 2017, Fert and the GBDC team have been supporting the cooperative in the modernization of the cowsheds, the improvement of rations, and the improvement of the quality of the milk produced and transformed.

Win-win partnership between farmers and insurance company

In other Ertoba villages, in association with the insurance company IRAO, Ertoba offers its members a very advantageous cattle insurance package, provided that they commit themselves to a veterinary package. For 45 GEL/animal (11 €), the farmer thus has insurance in case of mortality, and a vaccination and monitoring service for his animals, provided by the GBDC veterinarian. For the insurer, working with Ertoba provides the guarantee of having farmers supported in the good care of their animals. This offer has just been launched and already 120 cows are insured.

These two initiatives for better access to veterinary services demonstrate the capacity of Ertoba’s farmers, with the support of Fert and the GBDC, to organize themselves at their own level to find local solutions to the difficulties they face!