Students Prospering from USAID/REAP Internship Progam

“Agriculture is changing, and with it, a revised set of skills is needed to address new challenges and stimulate its development,” believes USAID’s Restoring Efficiency in Agricultural Production (REAP) program.

USAID’s REAP operates a robust internship program to engage students and provide them with practical learning experiences.

REAP has provided a 6-month internship opportunity to 34 students from 11 universities in REAP’s Tbilisi, Telavi, and Kutaisi offices. The interns have been involved in a variety of REAP program areas and have had the opportunity to directly interact with businesses and act as consultants under close mentorship of REAP specialists. CNFA, local consulting companies, and the public sector have employed some of these students, while others have pursued their graduate studies.

Another important area of REAP’s internship program is improving students’ and agriculture faculties’ awareness of modern agricultural technologies through their participation in REAP- arranged field days and practical training sessions led by highly qualified local and international practitioners. 75 students from the Agricultural University, Georgian Technical University, ISET, and VET Opizari attended these events and were able to observe in practice what they learned in classrooms.

“Through my six months working at REAP, I have gained valuable experience that helped me be selected for an exchange program at the University of Lodz, Poland,” said Levan Kurdadze,aCaucasus International University student.

We can be taught theory all day long, but it is putting that theory into practice that fuels creative thinking and new ideas... Thanks REAP,” said Mariam Mtsituridze, former REAP intern, Tartu University graduate, who is currently employed by MES Training Center.

REAP has closely cooperated with Akaki Tsereteli Kutaisi State University and Shota Rustaveli Batumi State University to help educators align the curriculum with business needs in their agrarian undergraduate programs. REAP provided these universities with technical training manuals in Georgian and trained university professors to teach postharvest handling and refrigeration courses. These courses are being offered to more than 500 students.

The project assists industry-university partnerships by facilitating agreements between its grant recipients and academia. These have been signed with Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and 3 grantee enterprises to enable students to get on-the-job training and participate in real-life research.

“Thanks to REAP I have an opportunity to do research for my undergraduate thesis at CAMPA,” stated Nino Bukhraidze of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University

The USAID-supported REAP program is an integrated enterprise development designed to increase incomes and rural employment by launching successful agribusinesses and promoting increased investment in Georgia’s agriculture sector. REAP’s investment has been in four priority directions: farm service centers, primary producers, postharvest and processing facilities, and information service providers. REAP supports all investments with technical assistance to improve their business and technical skills that lead to increased sales, enhanced competitiveness, and ultimately improved sustainability.

REAP’s leadership says the organization will continue its efforts to integrate more young people in to the labor market and give them new professional opportunities as they leave university.

Zviad Adzinbaia

25 June 2015 22:42