Fostering Collaboration: Study Trip to Slovakia

From February 19th to 23rd, 2024, a Study Trip took place, welcoming 10 representatives of farmers and small entrepreneurs from the ABL Communities in Georgia. They were carefully selected based on their business plans in collaboration with the Georgian partner, Populus Rei. 

Four days in Slovakia were brimming with intense meetings with Slovak experts and inspiring figures. The aim of the activity was to foster a more intensive exchange of experiences and insights with Slovak small-scale entrepreneurs and farmers. 

This initiative sought to enhance collaboration and understanding between the participants and their Slovak counterparts. The dissemination of Slovak experiences covered specialized areas: beekeeping, production of cookies, jams, and other fruit and vegetable products, marketing/promotion of green tourism, agrotourism, building sustainable local brands and regional cooperation.

Promotion and sustainable development of local dairy product producers were emphasized. During the study trip, representatives from Strategic Analysis, in collaboration with the Slovak partner, Development Agency of Banska Bystrica Region, organized and coordinated meetings with farmers, small entrepreneurs, and regional development experts. 

On Monday, February 19th, the delegation met with the director of SlovakAid, Mr. Tomáš Bokor, and the project manager, Ms. Anna Mária Benková. SlovakAid expressed admiration for their entrepreneurship in the ABL communities, recognizing the challenges they face. Mr. Bokor emphasized the importance of sustainability in business operations for long-term viability. The delegation anticipated gaining insights into the culture, experiences of people, challenges in agriculture, and utilized strategies during their visits. Our journey continued to a Farm in Kuchyna, where they observed the farm’s facilities and daily operations, followed by a visit of Bio Farm in Stupava, experiencing Slovak sheep cheese in a local shepherd’s hut and exploring sheep, horses, and other domestic animals. 

On Tuesday, February 20th, the delegation, along with the Strategic Analysis team, traveled to Banská Bystrica region. In collaboration with the Development Agency, they delivered lectures on Agrotourism development strategy and Marketing and promotion of Green Tourism – practical examples. 

Wednesday, February 21st, started with a visit to a Secondary Vocational school under Bánoš, where the delegation witnessed the school’s operations. The school provides professional training for beekeepers widely attended by domestic and international professionals regarding the husbandry of bees and manufacturing of products. Later, they attended lectures on regional cooperation and cooperatives and building local brands. 

Thursday, February 22nd, included a field trip to Devičany village, visiting Farma na Háji, where they cultivate fruit, vegetables, and medicinal plants, as well as raise sheep and bees, and process wool. Then we visited  Jabloňovce village, meeting a local baker as part of the Regional counters project. We concluded the day with a lecture in Banská Štiavnica on Challenges of developing green/sustainable tourism and regional cooperation in a UNESCO site. The study trip culminated with a debrief and a farewell dinner. 

The activity was part of the project: „Building economic resiliency of communities adjacent to the occupation line along Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia in Georgia (SAMRS/2023/GE/1/1)“.