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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
14/08/2013
Anthrax cases in Tsalka Municipality

Two cases of Anthrax were identified in Tsalka Municipality during August 2013. According to the NFA representative Jemal Dekanadze, one cow died due to contracting Anthrax in Beshtasheni Village, Tsalka on August 8th. A blood test sent to Tbilisi Veterinary laboratory was confirmed positive for Anthrax. However, as reported by the Local Independent Vet from Tsalka Municipality, about 5 heads of dead cattle with clinical signs of Anthrax that were not laboratory tested were also observed in the local farms of the village.

14/08/2013
Anthrax Outbreak in Tetritskaro Municipality

Two cows died and a man has been infected due to contracting Anthrax in Patara Toneti Village, Tetritskaro Municipality. According to the representative of the NFA – Shota Poilarashvili the first cow died on July 17th, although the blood samples for laboratory testing were taken only by July 26th. During ten days the infected carcass had been abandoned in the ravine of the village.

09/08/2013
Gender Integration Moves One Step Further

Following on from the meeting with Shorena Bziava on May 21st in Kutaisi, Alliances KK met with Davit Narmania, the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia. The main purpose of the meeting was introducing the Minister with Women’s Room, a new municipal service in Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka municipalities, facilitated by the Alliances KK programme.  Mr. David was informed about the main idea of WR and the services offered there. The information about the activities, the events carried out and the number of visitors since the establishment of WRs – were also overviewed. GENDER GUIDELINS for VILLAGE REPS with flyers of Women’s Room and Newsletter were presented and discussed.

31/05/2013
New Anthrax Outbreaks of the Year 2013 in Dmanisi Municipality

Two cows died due to contracting Anthrax in Useinkendi, Karabulakhi Community, Dmanisi municipality on 13th May 2013. As the deputy of Gamgebeli Dato Petviashvili stated, a blood sample was taken from only one dead cattle and Tbilisi Veterinary Laboratory has subsequently confirmed the animal death was caused by Anthrax. The local government put Karabulakhi under quarantine for two weeks.  The NFA commenced mandatory vaccination in the village and approximately 250 heads of livestock were vaccinated.

21/05/2013
Meeting at Georgian Parliament on Gender

On 21st of May a meeting was held with Shorena Bziava, Gender Equality Council secretary at Georgian Parliament in Kutaisi. Alliances KK representatives introduced the programme Gender activities - a new municipal service Women’s Room and Guidelines for the Village Reps.

11/05/2013
New Documentary on Shepherds of Kvemo Kartli

Mercy Corps, Alliances KK has contracted “Eco Films”  a Georgian independent wildlife film company to create a documentary about shepherds of Kvemo Kartli region. In the film “Two Week to Reach the Clouds” the process of animal movement from winter pastures in Kakheti to summer pastures in Kvemo Kartli will be depicted following a herder family during two-week-long trip from the lowlands to the highlands. The aim of the documentary is to show the cultural-traditional context of Georgian sheep farming based on the example of one sheep farmer family and its herd. The film will also show social as well as economic importance of the sheep migration and associated problems within the context of Georgia’s diversified nature and landscape.

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