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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
19/11/2015
DRR WGs Respond in Emergency

The heavy rain and strong wind in Ajara last week saw the DRRWG hotlines have been flooded with calls in Kobuleti, Khelvachauri, Keda, Shuakhevi and Khulo municipalities. From Wednesday morning till Saturday night (November 11th-14th), the Government of Ajara and all five municipalities declared a state of emergency and announced the DRR WG hotline number on Ajara TV and online for the farmers seeking help. Municipal DRR WG members, along with a geologist and a representative from the Road Department, formed emergency response groups in each municipality to immediately respond to calls.

18/11/2015
Bio Security Points - Coming Soon

Construction of the two Bio Security Points (BSP) on the Animal Movement Routes in Marneuli and Rustavi is now on a final stage.

Each 2000 square meters point is already concreted and fenced and the sheep dips and cattle showers are ready and the site office in place. The 50 ton galvanized water Tanks imported from the UK are installed. For both points the NFA will hire staff including a veterinarian.

12/11/2015
Georgia Interests at Swiss Show

The OLMA trade show – a Swiss Agricultural and Food Fair has been held every year since 1943 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The year’s 74th exhibition was held from  8-18 of October. 623 exhibitors and 375000 visitors attended the show.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) was the one of the exhibitors this year. The SDC created 8 country stands including that of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus.

07/10/2015
Bio Security Build-up
Construction of the two Bio Security Points on the Animal Movement Route is now in full swing in Marneuli and Rustavi municipalities. In a month since works commenced, the main ground works have been completed. 

The NFA announced a tender on September 28th for the construction of two further Bio Security Points of the same design in Dedoplistskaro and Sighnaghi municipalities. The tender winner company was identified on October 5th.

06/10/2015
Advent of Agro-Journalism

For the first time in Georgia 6 universities will soon offer specialized courses on agricultural journalism.

The universities in Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltcikhe and Caucasus International Universities in Tbilisi who already offer academic programmes on journalism, mass communications and agricultural education will now add agro journalism. The course prospective tutors have just had Training of Trainers for two days.

16/09/2015
The First Women’s Room in Ajara

Following work in KK and SJ  the Women’s Room model is being replicated in Ajara region, where Ajara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is proving an invaluable partner by opening the first Women’s Room at the Association of Business Women of Ajara (ABWA).

The “Women’s Room” will open up opportunities for the ABWA in terms of coordinating activities, trainings, advocacy raising meetings and information sharing. All these will contribute into stimulating women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment and attracting more women members to the association.

LATEST NEWS
Georgian Milk Mark in Ministry Magazine
17/11/2020
Our Village, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) magazine with a circulation of 10,000 copies a month is publishing an article about the Georgian Milk Mark (GMM) in its October issue. The article provides comprehensive information about the GMM, a list of the GMM dairies and their products. Rural farmers across Georgia will receive the magazine through fifty-four MEPA Information Consultation Centers (ICCs) for free. Currently, sixty-seven types of GMM dairy products from eighteen GMM  dairy companies are being sold  in Madagoni, Spar, Ori Nabiji, Nikora, Zgapari, Fresco, Foodmart, Carrefour, Goodwill, Willmart, Libre, Deili, Bilion supermarket chains. Details on www.georgianmilk.ge.
Georgian Beekeeping Highlighted in German Magazine
15/07/2020
A German beekeeping magazine Deutsches Bienen-Journal with circulation of 52,000 copies a month published a comprehensive article on beekeeping in Georgia and its history, local bee breed Mountain Grey Caucasian Honey Bee (Apis mellifera caucasica) and Jara honey a special mention of the project’s work.
Improvements in Sheep Shearing
29/10/2020
In 2018, while thinking about improving the quality of supplied wool, the Georgian Wool Company purchased twelve sheep shearing machines and trained a group of twelve shepherds, to provide a shearing service to sheep farmers. The service is available on the pastures at the beginning of spring and at the end of summer, when sheep are usually sheared in Georgia. This year, up to five-hundred farmers were served, with hundred thousand sheep sheared.   Before, the wool suppliers of the company sheared sheep by hand, which damaged wool fiber and the quality of wool was poor. It took time with only up to thirty sheep sheared a day. The sheep farmers had to ensure the workforce for shearing by hand, they also had to arrange wool storage space in pastures and transportation of wool from pastures to wool collection centers. Incompliant shearing and storage was decreasing the quality of wool and causing about a ten percent loss (up to thirty kilos), which was usually left on pastures polluting the local environment.   Now, the sheep shearing machines prevent damaging of wool fiber and respectively, the quality of wool has been improved. The company’s sheep shearing machine service includes storage and transportation of wool from pastures to the company`s warehouse in Tbilisi. Sheep shearing is now time-efficient with up to hundred sheep/day sheared by one trained shepherd. While shearing of thousand sheep by hand took at least three days, now the same is done just in one day. For the company it means a stable supply of wool in better, cleaner quality; For farmers it translates into reduced transaction costs, time and about 0.7 Gel saved per sheep. The Georgian Wool Company first exported wool to the United Kingdom back in 2016. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, Afghanistan are now among top wool export destinations. Along with growing demand, improving quality has become a particular interest of the company.
LATEST PUBLICATIONS
Measuring Urban Consumers Awareness of the GMM
A National Qualitative Review of the Municipal Women's Rooms
Deutsches Bienenjournal about Georgian Beekeeping