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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
10/09/2015
Minister Publicizes Animal Movement Route Work

The Ministry of Agriculture through the National Food Agency has posted details of the construction of the six Bio Security Points on the Animal Movement Route, the construction of two of which have started this month.

http://nfa.gov.ge/

https://www.facebook.com/

Minister of Agriculture Otar Danelia stated.

“It is very important that concrete steps toward the development of the livestock sector have been taken. Rehabilitation and modernization of the Animal Movement Route has started. Building modern standard Bio Security Points will promote animal health protection and will reduce the spread of animal disease” – he said.

24/08/2015
Buzz on Batumi Boulevard

Locals, interested parties including the Minister of Agriculture of Ajara and tourists, in the height of the Batumi summer run enjoyed a new addition to the summer time calendar of events with the first Ajara Honey Festival on August 22nd on Batumi Boulevard. The festival was organized by The Beekeepers Association of Ajara, an entity belonging to the Ajara Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ajara is a major producer of honey in Georgia and the programme has completed a sector survey and commenced numerous interventions. The festival was a first step in promoting Ajara as a producer of high quality honey and developing a cohesive image of honey production in the region. Beekeeping in Ajara has been practiced for centuries and still includes the capturing of wild swarms and cultivating of honey in logs known as ‘Jara’.

30/07/2015
The NFA Meetings with Honey and Meat Sector Representatives

The National Food Agency representatives met with entrepreneurs of honey and meat sectors in Kvemo Kartli and Ajara regions in July. The aim of the meetings was to inform local producers on the regulations and required standards for the quality production of meat and honey products in accordance with FS&H standards.

07/07/2015
The Batumi Agrarian Market and Food Safety and Hygiene Standards

Food Safety and Hygiene in the Agrarian Market of Batumi was the main topic of the ALCP AJ Advisory Committee’s second meeting in Ajara region. The discussion concerned the incompliance of existing situation in Market with FS&H standards and possible risks derived from the meat and dairy products purchased there. Due to the importance and complexity of the issue, key market stakeholders such as representatives of Ajara Government, NFA and Agrarian Market participated in the meeting.

06/05/2015
The Municipal DRR Working Groups Supported by the Regional Government

The first meeting of the Regional DRR Working Group was carried out at the KK Governor Office.

The Governor of Kvemo Kartli - Paata Khizanashvili encouraged decision makers from all municipalities of the region to pay more attention on issues linked with Animal Disease Control, Pasture Usage and Disaster Risk Reduction. He noted that the municipal leaders should understand these are the issues of high importance and the new municipal working groups should have strong communication with the Governor’s office and with other municipalities of Kvemo Kartli.

By now, all seven municipalities of Kvemo Kartlli have DRR working groups coordinated by the regional government.

18/04/2015
Facilitating Eco Education and Rural Tourism in Ajara

A new project “Closer to Nature” was launched by Batumi Botanical Garden facilitated by ALCP AJ to promote 165 school student’s involvement in biodiversity and environmental protection activities.

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