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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
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.

11/06/2018
Sheep Shearing Festival in Armenia

On Saturday, June 9 representatives of the ALCP team (www.alcp.ge) and a wool processor Tamar Tsikarishvili from Akhaltsikhe, Georgia attended the Sheep

Shearing Festival after being invited by SDC sister project SDA Armenia which took place in Syunik Animal Market, Syunik region. The festival aimed to promote sheep, local produce, traditions and culture of Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions (Please see the Link).

The festival included guest sheep shearer Danny Wilson from Great Britain who conducted master classes for festival participants and visitors. 



30/04/2018
Transforming Agri Journalism Success to Armenia

Knowledge is a power and the ALCP is committed to facilitating high quality agri information transfer to rural farmers strengthening the field of journalism in Georgia and Armenia.

On 25th-29th of April an international agricultural journalist was commissioned to deliver trainings to 11 Armenian TV and press journalists and 2 heads of the Department of Journalism of Armenian universities in the Caucasus International University in Tbilisi.

Follow the link of Imedi TV news on the event.

20/04/2018
Georgia and Jordan Share Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE)

On April 16th-20th, 2018 the Alliances Caucasus Programme (www.alcp.ge) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and implemented by Mercy Corps in Georgia, hosted a study tour from the Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund (AWEF). The tour included Jordan Municipality Mayors, WEE coordinators and representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan to share ALCP’s experience on Women Economic Empowerment integration through M4P approach and best practices used. 

19/03/2018
Swiss Delegation in Kvemo Kartli

On March 16th, 2018 the Alliances Caucasus Programme (www.alcp.ge) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and implemented by Mercy Corps in Georgia, hosted eighteen Swiss Ambassadors and Mission Directors of Development Cooperation of Switzerland from Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan as well as representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ headquarters in Bern.  The visit was part of a regional seminar hosted by the Swiss Ambassador to Georgia and Head of Mission Olivier Burki, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Georgia.

9/03/2018
Successful Women – Sustainable Economy – Women's Business Forum in Ajara

'This forum is the first steps where women economic empowerment starts from. The Ajara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is ready to support women entrepreneurs and startups. Through the Women’s Room of ACCI we will help them in preparing Business Plans, liaising new business contacts and follow up their way of achieving success in businesses’ - Tamaz Shavadze, Chairman of ACCI.

The National Women Business Forum for  300 participants including 180 women entrepreneurs from all regions of Georgia as well as public, private and civil sector organizations concerned with women’s entrepreneurship was held in Batumi on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018.

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