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30/01/2015
Counteracting Indifference: How to Keep Gender and WEE Alive

By Helen Bradbury: Team Leader, Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme

We are in an interesting conundrum. Gender in most places has been written-in to law. Bar a few notable exceptions, every country in the world, has varying degrees of success in applying universal suffrage.  Fifty countries are signed up to the CEDAW convention (the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women).  On the CEDAW world map of Discrepant Government Behaviour  Concerning Women,  the countries shaded dark green which denotes ‘virtually no enforcement of laws consonant with CEDAW or such laws do not even exist’, are where you expect them to be and in fact they are relatively few.  It is the next two categories which disturb, covering the vast majority of the globe, the mid and lighter green, where laws are partly or fully consonant with CEDAW but there is little effective enforcement or spotty enforcement of them and the issue is low priority or hit and miss. After the gains, the laws and ratifications of the last centuries it seems that we must tread very carefully indeed for we must counteract indifference, in which inertia and inactivity stop us moving forward.

10/10/2014
How Much Regulation Does a Country Need?

From the ISET Economist Blog (http://www.iset.ge/blog/?p=3871)

By Eric Livny

Democracy and Freedom Watch reported October 9, that “Georgia’s controversial new immigration law may be changed”. The law, writes DFW, “has caused a wave of confusion and irritation in the country’s expat community. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili … told journalists that if any defects become apparent after the enactment of the new law, ‘we’ll surely correct it.''

17/09/2014
Information Matters: Two New Websites

By Helen Bradbury: Team Leader, Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme

                           

Information matters, it is our currency, the substance, the commodity which keeps our programmes running.  We live in an age of information, are afloat on and sometimes drowning in a sea of it.  We may check the oracle of google in answer to any question, live feeds, notifications and a torrent of minutiae in a mélange of events of great importance, continually assail us. Once there were spin doctors, now most of us spin daily be it personally or professionally. We are aware of the need to manage information, to have enough of it and of the right kind and most of us are aware too of the need to understand its quality and to know when and what we have is enough or too little.

07/07/2014
Survival of the Fittest in Georgian Agriculture

From the ISET Economist Blog (http://www.iset.ge/blog/?s=survival&lang=en)
By Nino Mosiashvili

The conclusion of the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union was euphorically acclaimed by Georgian media as well as political and economic decision makers. Part of the AA is the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The DCFTA is intended to liberalize trade between Georgia and the EU by lowering tariffs and reducing non-tariff barriers. For agriculture, the most relevant changes relate to food safety (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection, and labeling) as well as animal and plant health (phytosanitation). For the manufacturing sector, the removal of so-called “technical barriers to trade” is similarly important, with the goal being to prevent the usage of technical standards as a means to protect domestic markets from foreign competition. “If regulations are set arbitrarily, they could be used as an excuse for protectionism”, states the World Trade Organization on its homepage.

28/05/2014
Farmer Groups: Why We Love Them and When They are Successful

From the ISET Economist Blog (http://www.iset.ge/blog/?p=3311)
By Eric Livny

(Summary of a debate hosted by ISET as part of SDC-supported Inclusive Growth Dialog series.)

There are many reasons to love the concept of farmer cooperation (and cooperation more generally). To begin with, there is a great aesthetic value in seeing people coming together, sharing resources and helping each other. After all, instinctive collectivism was the basic condition of human existence from time immemorial. But, there are also powerful economic reasons for farmer cooperation.

28/03/2014
Farmer Groups: Why We Love Them, Why We Do Them and Why They Fail

From the ISET Economist Blog (http://www.iset.ge/blog/?p=3056)
By Tim Stewart

As Georgia embarks on an ambitious program to develop farmer organizations, it is worth considering both the positive and negative lessons from the experience of similar initiatives, both in Georgia and elsewhere in the developing/transition context. The piece by Tim Stewart, originally published on www.springfieldcentre.com, identifies some of the main reasons for the failure of start-up farmer organizations. The challenge for Georgia is to learn from these mistakes in planning and implementation, and ensure improved coordination among the many cooks involved (the newly created Agency for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives, the Ministry of Agriculture, international donors, NGOs, and farmer associations).  

LATEST BLOG POSTS
Bees in Town
7/06/2016
4 Beehives and their inhabitants from the high mountains of Ajara started their new life on the terrace of one of the largest Hotels in Batumi, Georgia, the Hilton Batumi, to produce honey for hotel guests. The General Manager of the Hilton, a keen birdwatcher and conservationist had the idea, seeking to showcase the beautiful countryside of Ajara and take this first step in illustrating the story of locally sourced food and the people who produce it.  By linking the hotel with the Ajara Beekeepers Business Association, the hives were installed.  Urban beekeeping is increasingly popular in Europe as bee colonies decline and new ways are sought to develop a more ecologically sensitive lifestyle as urban centers grow.  The Hilton also installed a honey showpiece at the breakfast buffet, of mounted honey comb, a large map of the 10 honey production gorges of mountainous Ajara and the indigenous flora on which the bees feed with the honey and comb sourced through honey producing company Matchakhela Ltd. These initiatives which form a part of the ALCP programme’s work in the honey market system illustrate the great potential of the honey sector to feed into the promotion of Ajara as a great and varied tourist destination. Income received from the Hotel hives will be donated to children in need in the rural municipalities. News travels fast and perhaps other hotels may take up the initiative now it's been advertised through the Hilton chains newsletter.
Women’s Rooms in Ajara
06/06/2016
Khelvachauri Women’s Room is taking its first steps in helping women access public resources voice their opinions and participate in local self-governance. The Women’s Room model that is being replicated in Ajara was first established in three municipalities of Kvemo Kartli from 2012 and subsequently in all municipalities of Kvemo Kartli and Samstkhe-Javakheti. The first opened in Batumi with the Association of Business Women of Ajara (ABWA) in the Ajara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) was the first of all a new type of urban and business based women’s room, with the ideas of providing business trainings and an urban connection for the municipality based women’s rooms already opened in Keda, Shuakhevi, Khulo and Khelvachauri municipalities and soon to open in Kobuleti.  The rooms are proving popular with these WR’s already providing more than 1200 services in three months. The Women’s Rooms are a municipal service, a resource and consultancy space for facilitating open dialogue between local society and municipality officials, aiming at promoting women’s participation in the decision-making at the local level and increasing their access to municipal information and services including on health care and agricultural programmes. Women’s Rooms also offer a platform for trainings and meetings, supporting new initiatives and instilling women’s active participation. The space has been taken up quickly with the Association of Young Lawyers  and the School of Democracy using the rooms to raise women’s awareness on human rights, economic  and educational opportunities. Visitors can use library and internet for free. All of the Women’s Rooms in Ajara are easy to access on the first floor of municipality buildings and can be freely used by people with disabilities for meeting with Gamgebeli and other officials to speak about their issues. Gamgebelis hold weekly meetings with local citizens in the W’s Rs. A Free hotline number (Khulo 0 800 100 109; Shuakhevi 0 800 000 008; Keda 0 800 100 103; Khelvachauri 0 800 100 106) allows rural women to voice their issues in the Gamgeoba. Women’s Room coordinators and municipal Gender Advisors, were trained on the importance of women involvement in decision-making using guidelines on The Application and Implementation of the Law on Gender Equality of Georgia by local self-government bodies to increase women’s participation in the community meetings, that was resulted in significant increase from 3% (2014) to 33% (2016) of women’s participation in these meetings. To find out more about W’s Rs ongoing activities, visit Ajara (Batumi,Khulo, Shuakhevi, Keda, Khelvachauri), Kvemo Kartli (Dmanisi, Tsalka, Tetritskaro, Rustavi,Marneuli, Aspindza) and Samtskhe Javakheti (Akhaltsikhe,Adigeni, Borjomi ) W’s Rs Facebook pages.
Vet Story
30/11/2015
Posted by Helen Bradbury: Team Leader, Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme ALCP has been featured on BEAM Exchange. See the story below. Rural farmers can only grow their income when they have access to the drugs and veterinary services to keep their animals healthy and growing too. Alliances has partnered with a national veterinary inputs supply company to improve access to drugs, information and vet services for poor farmers in rural Georgia. There are strong signs competitors are seeking to replicate the model, which is also scaling up nationally and in neighbouring countries.  The challenge Over 2 million people in rural Georgia rely on subsistence farming, typically owning less than one hectare of land. SDC has been funding a series of programmes in Southern Georgia since 2008 to improve the livelihoods of livestock farmers.  During initial surveys, Alliances learned that less than 10 per cent of farmers were accessing veterinary drugs or services in their community, in rural vet pharmacies mainly self-stocked from trips to Tbilisi. Others bought drugs when travelling to the capital. In the rural vet pharmacies a limited range of often improperly stored drugs were sold at high prices due to the resultant transaction costs. Local advice was minimal, unavailable or out of date. This had led to a lack of farmer trust in local veterinary products and services and unwillingness to invest. Suppliers had failed to grasp the market potential of developing rural distribution, lacking both the information and capital to do so. The uncertainty about whether farmers would buy their products meant the perceived risk held suppliers back from making the first move. 
LATEST NEWS
Bulk, Brand and Niche - Georgian Honey Export Begins to Flow
05/10/2021
Rebounding in spite of the pandemic, export markets for Georgian honey are beginning to flow and the volume of honey is growing rapidly. In the first eight months of 2021, 117 tonnes of honey were exported to eleven countries; France, Bulgaria, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Five times more than the  21.7 tonnes of honey, exported to six countries in 2020. A major recent development has been the establishment of a contract for wholesale bulk honey between Api Geo Ltd in Samtredia and Naturalim France Miel a large honey company in France. In September, forty-three tonnes of honey was shipped to France. A second order is now being prepared for shipment. Strict testing in France and Germany and a new factory and equipment capable of homogenizing 20t of honey at a time mean that the company is the first in Georgia to able to reliably service such a market. ‘This is just a start; we hope to export at least 100 tonnes of Georgian honey to France this year. We want to supply from smaller-scale beekeepers which will help them with selling their honey, which has been a problem for years in Georgia.’ - Gia Ioseliani, Founder of Api Geo Ltd. September was also a fortunate month for Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking (KTW) producers of the Nena Honey brand which includes the first Bio-certified Jara honey in Georgia.  The company has just shipped a second large order of six types of Nena honey to Hong Kong, including chestnut, blossom, alpine, linden, Jara and honey with nuts including Bio Jara honey. Nena Bio Jara honey is also on its way to Doha, Qatar. Overall, since January 2021, the company has increased the volume of honey exported by 110%, compared to 2020, to markets in Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Japan, Azerbaijan and Qatar.  Bio certification of Jara honey in Ajara is receiving considerable governmental backing. ‘We are proud that export markets for bio-certified Jara honey are growing and now it is being exported to countries like Japan, the USA, and Canada. We started to support Bio-certification of the Jara Beekeepers Association in 2021 to continue to supply diverse export markets for such a flagship product.’ - Giorgi Surmanidze, Minister of Agriculture of Ajara.   The Jara Beekeepers Association is consolidating its entry into the Japanese market in partnership with MF Company Ltd. In September they exported honey to be shown at an exhibition in Tokyo in October, after which the next order will be placed. ‘Japanese consumers are loving Jara honey, some of them told us that it helps them with stomach problems. We believe that this exhibition in Tokyo will open up new opportunities for the Jara Beekeepers Association.’ - William Pratt, Co-founder of MF Company Ltd.  
Fourth Georgian Milk Mark (GMM) Dairy Exports to the USA
24/08/2021
Dairy Enterprise Leanka Ltd from Kakheti region sent 837 kg different types of cheese (Sulguni, Smoked Sulguni, Georgian cheese) via the exporter company Geoproduct Ltd for sale in New York and Philadelphia, USA. The dairy is a member of the Georgian Milk Mark the quality assurance label for Georgian natural milk and its products bare the GMM. The company expects further increased orders in the near future.
Jara Teaching Ready to Go
12/07/2021
Eleven Vet colleges with beekeeping programmes have already received Jara equipment from the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) and Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA). These eleven colleges are ready to integrate the Jara materials into their beekeeping programmes some from September this year and others in the spring semester next year.  The Deputy Minister of Education of Georgia, the Minister of Education of Ajara, and the Mayor of Keda visited the Keda VET College and expressed their support to Jara teaching. ‘We received the package of equipment for Jara teaching. The beekeeper students, enrolled last year, are looking forward to getting lessons related to Jara producing; officially, we are starting teaching from a new semester’ – Ilia Kharazishvili, the head of the beekeeping programme at Kachreti College. The handover of Jara equipment is a follow-up activity of the Training of Trainers in Jara Honey Production for VET Colleges, which was held on May 18th-19th  hosted by the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) and the Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) in Keda, Medzibna Village. The National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement and sectoral skills organization Agro Duo are supporting the GBU and JBA with Jara teaching integration in the VET colleges. ‘We started cooperating with the Georgian Beekeepers Union and Jara Beekeepers Association for integrating Jara into our beekeeping programme, however, we are going to involve them in updating the whole beekeeping programme. We need their consultancy to share with us all standards to improve the programme’ - Bela Avalishvili, the head of Opizari VET College in Akhaltsikhe. These colleges are  VET College at Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University; Black Sea Keda VET College; Black Sea Shuakhevi VET College; VET College Opizari in Akhaltsikhe; VET College Gantiadi in Gori; VET College Aisi in Kachreti; Training Center Farmers' House in Sagarejo, a brunch of Public College Aisi; VET college Iberia in Bagdati; VET College at Shota Meskhia Zugdidi State Teaching University; VET College at Georgian Technical University - Didi Jikhaishi in Imereti; and VET College Horizonti in Guria.  Last year Akhali Talga VET College in Kobuleti and Khulo integrated the Jara materials into their one-year beekeeping programme, which is attended by twenty-eight beekeeper students. The GBU and JBA also delivered the Jara equipment to these colleges in 2020.