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Jara Beekeeping Brings Hope: Vazha’s Story

 

Fifty-seven years old Vazha Kedelidze from Kedlebi Village, Khulo is one of ten students who enrolled in the beekeeping programme at Akhali Talgha vocational college in August.

Vazha retired from his position as a fireman five years ago. Soon after, his wife had a severe injury that left her unable to take care of their farm. As Vazha says, beekeeping is now the mainstay of his family. His beekeeper friend helped him to arrange an apiary of twenty hives.

I discovered that beekeeping is a philosophy on its own. Sometimes I sit for hours and observe bees working. I am trying to understand the process.’- Vazha says.

As a beginner beekeeper, Vazha is striving for knowledge and struggling to gain comprehensive information, as internet sources are not targeted to beginner beekeepers and he needed something hands on. He then heard about the beekeeping course at the Akhali Talgha VET collegein Khulo.

‘I do not know curriculum details yet, but I am sure I will get answers to my questions and I am looking forward to starting the learning process.’ – Says Vazha.

Vazha was even more surprised when he found out a Jara beekeeping module:

‘I had heard about Jara from villagers and television. It is a fascinating and very unique tradition. Last year, I even made six Jara hives and could not proceed further due to a lack of knowledge. So, I am glad that I will learn more about this traditional beekeeping.’ – Says Vazha.

Akhali Talga VET college in Ajara is the first college in Georgia to have integrated Jara teaching in their beekeeping programme. They will teach the integrated programme from this semester to twenty-eight students.

In total, there are ten VET colleges in Georgia with either a two month or one-year beekeeping course. The Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU), along with the Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA),  is now facilitating the integration of Jara module into beekeeping programmes of these ten colleges in cooperation with the sectoral skills organization Agro Duo and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. The JBA developed the Jara Honey Production Handbook: for Beekeeping Programmes at VET Colleges.

Jara is traditional wild beekeeping, rarely practiced nowadays, except for remote dwellings located in the subtropical and alpine zones of Western Georgia, namely, Ajara, emphasizing the importance of co-existence between humans and wild nature. It is a family activity led by a family head, with strong roots in traditional agriculture practice, culture and a way of living as a whole. That makes Jara unique. However, due to a limited market, it was nearly fading outback in 2014 when the ALCP found out about it, and this is when the Jara journey began. It is now growing in 2018 the first commercial Jara harvest was 500kg it is now over 3 tonnes. Twenty-three Jara beekeepers are now Bio Certified and many people such as Vazha are anxious to start. Jara is a high value product with very strong demand it retails for 90 Gel/kg.

OTHER NEWS
26/12/2018
Agri Journalism Spreads

On December 26th, the Journalism Resource Centre presented its second edition of the agri journalism module. About hundred guests from the government, business and academic sphere attended the event.

The Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Levan Davitashvili stated: ‘I am very glad to hear about all the initiatives related to agri journalism. Education is very important in agriculture for ensuring information dissemination for farmers. The door of the Minister of Agriculture is open for you at any time and our partnership with regional media is very important.’

The agri module was created for inclusion in BA in journalism degrees. Now, ten universities across Georgia have the agri journalism module established in their curriculum, lasting one semester with a total of 15 credit hours. Four more universities are about to do the same this year. 369 students have undergone the course in Georgia to date. Now those initiatives are ready for transfer to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

During the event, the Journalism Resource Centre awarded farmers and specialists within the agricultural sector. The Best Female Farmer of the Year award was given to beekeeper Mariam Kiladze; the Best Vet of the Year was Giorgi Tcikhelashvili from Dmanisi, he is 25 years-old who graduated from the Vet Department at Agrarian University and went back to Dmanisi and is working as a vet. The Best Male Farmer award was given to shepherd Giorgi Imerlishvili. Credo and the EBRD were recognized as financial institutions that supports agriculture, and SDC Project Mercy Corps Alliances Caucasus Programme for supporting agri media journalism.

At the end of the event, the Journalism Resource Centre announced the establishment of the Agro Guild, which unites journalists and media organizations, businesses, farmers, public officials, and universities and sets up annual or bi-annual advisory committees. The members of media associations and the JRC also announced that they are planning to establish an Agri TV program, the pilot of which will start in three months.

Follow this link for additional news regarding the event.

12/11/2018
First Commercial Harvesting of Jara honey

For the first time ever, twenty Jara producers have sold their entire crop of Jara to a commercial enterprise. Jara honey will soon be available in shops in Georgia.

See photos below. 

04/10/2018
A New Veterinary Surveillance Point in Bolnisi

The construction of a new Veterinary Surveillance Point has recently started in Bolnisi municipality. The works will be finished in December 2018. The point will be the six and final point in the Veterinary Surveillance network throughout the Animal Movement Route. 

During five transhumance seasons in 2016-2018 total 1.4 million heads of sheep and cattle were treated against ecto-parasites free of charge at all operational Veterinary Surveillance Points in Rustavi, Marneuli, Signagi, Dedoplistskaro and Kvareli municipalities.

04/09/2018
Second Win for Jara

The Georgian documentary Jara was named as the Best Feature Film at the Wolves Independent International Film Festival 2018. Nature, heritage, environment, history, culture, ethnography, adventure, wildlife, indigenous cultures and social issues are the main themes of the festival which takes place in Lithuania.

It is the second award for Jara following Golden Green Award 2018 at the Deauville Green Awards International Film Festival, for the best production in the category of Sustainable Agriculture

Jara was premiered by EcoFilms in Tbilisi in 2017. The main backer of Jara was the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented Alliances Caucasus Programme (ALCP) within a consortium of public bodies and conservation organizations including World Wildlife Fund and Caucasus Nature Fund.

13/08/2018
The Honey Festival 2018

The annual Honey Festival was opened for the fourth time on August 11th on Batumi Boulevard and closed on August 12th in Batumi Botanical Garden. Up to 45 beekeepers from across Georgia once again presented their honey and by products for the festival visitors. Honey themed activities were held for children’s entertainment; visitors could see the ancient beehive at the special corner for jara beekeepers from Ajara and could taste different kind of honey from different parts of Georgia. Batumi Botanical Garden promoted Goderdzi Alpine Garden; live music kept the celebration spirit all day. 

“Beekeeping is our family business. We started participating in the festival from the very beginning and it became a tradition. Each year we promote our products and each year we find new clients. This annual festival helps us to make our products more visible and popular” - Shorena Kezheradze, Khelvachauri municipality, Ajara.

21/06/2018
Golden Scoop for Sustainable Agriculture in Georgia June 20th 2018

The Georgian documentary Jara has just won the Golden Green Award 2018 at the Deauville Green Awards International Film Festival, for the best production in the category of Sustainable Agriculture, the International jury selected the finalists in fourteen categories  from four hundred and fifteen films produced worldwide. Jara was screened during the festival in Deauville in the presence of the professionals and the press.

The Deauville Green Awards is one of the most prestigious festivals in Green Film Production worldwide launched in 2012. For the last seven years, the festival’s mission has been to enhance information films, spots and documentaries on sustainability, eco-innovations and social responsibility. Furthering public understanding and education. Each year the festival draws five hundred films from five continents, with four hundred professionals of film in attendance.

LATEST NEWS
Continuous Teaching from the GBU
30/05/2021
On May 27th-28th, more than two thousand beekeepers in all regions of Georgia attended a training on bee treatment practices as a response to the massive bee colonies collapse this year. The Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) initiated and advocated the first nationwide trainings with the Rural Development Agency (RDA) based on the online research data gathered. The GBU developed a trainer’s handbook and Varroa Treatment guideline, which was translated and available for Azerbaijani and Armenian beekeepers; and delivered a Training of Trainers for eighty-five beekeepers.  ‘Beekeepers received important information about new methodology how to treat Varroa. This was the first training organized in coordination with the GBU, which is the main actor in the beekeeping sector and our collaboration will continue.’ – Lasha Shalamberidze, the Head of the Regional Relations Department at the RDA. ‘I think, a key outcome of these trainings is that our Union expanded its team across Georgia. We now have the representatives in each municipality and we will continue teaching and delivering important information to the beekeepers.’ – Aleko Papava, the Head of the GBU.
A New Veterinary Surveillance Point in Mtskheta-Mtianeti Region
26/05/2021
A seventh Veterinary Surveillance Point (VSP) of the National Food Agency (NFA) opened recently in Dusheti municipality to serve nomadic farmers migrating on the north part of the Animal Movement Route of Georgia. This is the first and the only VSP in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, where disinfection of sheep and cattle against ecto-parasites is provided by the State. Up to 100,000 head of sheep will be dipped there during every transhumance season, free of charge. The point was constructed by the NFA following the petition of shepherds from the region at the ALCP’s 11th Advisory Committee meeting and was approved by the Minister of Environmental Protection & Agriculture – Levan Davitashvili in March 2019, based on the positive benefits of the existing points. In 2015 the VSP model was created by the ALCP commissioned British livestock expert Edward Hamer and an MOU was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, the NFA and the ALCP to construct six VSPs, two of them were financed by the programme and four by the State. In 2016-2018 all six points were finalized and opened. This year additional water points were also opened on the route. The VSP’s record and monitor the nomadic sheep and cattle population and underpin Georgia’s credibility in livestock export markets.
Where the streets are paved with gold: Georgian Honey Goes to London
24/05/2021
As Dick Whittington found out the London streets are not literally paved with gold. However four Georgian honey companies are participating in a celebration of the liquid kind. The London International Honey Awards held from May 30-31st, have two main award categories: quality and design, and feature honeys from all over the world, from Canada to the Mediterranean to New Zealand and everything in between. Competition is fierce. The four Georgian honey companies, Nena, Rukhi Queen, Honey and Irinola Company and Cooperative Kodi, were supported to participate by the Embassy of Georgia to the UK and the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU). 
LATEST PUBLICATIONS
Quality Assurance Standards for the Production of Jara Honey
Honey Sector Development 2017-2020
Productivity in ALCP Dairy Supply - Impact Assessment