On October 13, 2022, was the presentation of the Solidarity Branding campaign Fruits Heroism funded by the Georgian Information Integrity Program (GIIP)/ USAID.
Since March 2022 this initiative has been implemented by IDFI and EECMD in partnership with the Georgian Farmers’ Association and the creative agency Leavingstone with support from Zinc Network.
Through the support of the wider Georgian Public, this initiative aims to make communities residing near the occupation line in Shida Kartli more resilient to the growing Russian threat. To this end, the project created a new brand identity that expresses both physical and emotional solidarity with the people near the administrative border; It will promote products produced near the occupation line and increase civic activism in the region.
With the joint efforts of USAID, Zinc Network, and the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), farmers living near the occupation zone will be able to sell their agriculture products in select Carrefour and Zgapari hypermarkets in Tbilisi. From now on, consumers can purchase fruits, vegetables and dried fruit under the brand Fruits of Heroism.
The aim of the campaign is to help Georgian consumers identify and purchase produce grown near the occupation line in Shida Kartli. Consumers can show their solidarity with farmers who continue to work close to the occupation zone, by buying their products.
On presentation Zhana Sirbiladze, Project Coordinator from Zinc Network addressed the audience with the opening remarks. According to her, the aim of the initiative is to show to the wider public the courage and hard work of people residing near the occupation line.
“Produced near the occupation line” branded products notify consumers that by buying these products, they empower heroes close to the occupation zone. “These products are made in Shindisi, Dirbi, Medzhvriskhevi, Bershueti, and Dvani - in villages where people, despite the constant threat of Russian occupation, are tirelessly working and creating economic prosperity not for their families only, but for the whole country as well. Our purpose is to remind the wider Georgian public that we have to be more solidary with these communities and empower those who defend Georgian soil” - said Sirbiladze.
The presentation also was attended by Lisa Kovack, Deputy Director, Office of Democracy, Rights, and Governance USAID/Georgia. She mentioned that it is very important for USAID to support such projects, particularly, when it comes to brave people residing near the occupation line. Lisa Kovack Expressed readiness for future cooperation to increase the scale of this project and engage more beneficiaries.
During the presentation, the Memory and Disinformation Studies Direction Head from the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), Anton Vatcharadze underlined the importance of solidarity with farmers/entrepreneurs residing near the occupation line. He talked about challenges near the occupation zone that have a direct impact on local people. Anton Vatcharadze expressed hope that farmers' concerns will be precisely delivered to consumers who are the driving force at this stage. They should bear in mind that people living near the occupation line protect and preserve not only their homes but also the future of the whole country.
At this event beneficiaries of the project had a good opportunity to unveil the initiative to national media outlets, acquaint consumers with their histories and talk about the importance of the project: “cultivated Georgian land and alive Georgian production along barbed-wire defences is an impetus for us. When you know that you are doing exemplary work to serve your country, it is easier for you to cope with the constant threat of creeping occupation.
It is very motivational to be engaged in this project. It is vitally important to us to make our small production known to the wider public and this project renders us an excellent opportunity to present our products to retail and wholesale companies in order to make our production more accessible” - Ekaterine Khodeli, village Bershueti.
Initially, consumers can purchase Fruits of Heroism branded products in select Carrefour hypermarkets in Tbilisi (Tbilisi Moli, East Point) and up to 30 markets of Zgapari. In the future, we plan to engage much more markets in this campaign to make these products more available to consumers.
The implementation of the project — Solidarity Branding: Promoting Entrepreneurs Living in the Shida Kartli Region, Next to the Occupied Territories— is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
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