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10/03/2014
Women of Kvemo Kartli

Publishing the following series of stories is an attempt to highlight the ethnic diversity of Kvemo Kartli. We are going to tell you the stories of five women living in various parts of Kvemo Kartli; these women have different lifestyles and represent different cultures, but they still have a lot in common. This is their history in stories. Stories of work, endurance, taboos, restriction, dignity, honesty and womanhood. You will not see figures and percentages here; this is not a quantitative survey. These are stories that allow us to build on those figures and percentages and enable us to develop profiles of Ajarian, Svan, Azeri, Armenian, Greek and local Georgian women’s lives, to understand their complexities and areas of commonality and to reflect this in our work as a programme.

Kvemo Kartli is one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Georgia. Ethnic diversity has developed over centuries and many contrasts and cultural differences have accumulated in this region; the study and management of these contrasts and differences and the development of models for peaceful cohabitation is not an easy task. Cultural, ethnic and language differences can be seen in every detail of life. Differences are present in rural and urban areas, in highlands and lowlands, in methods of doing business. Our objective in recording these stories was to attempt to create a profile of these women, to listen to them and build the picture of their lives, to understand the effects that culture and ethnic origin have on their lives, to see what opportunities they have and how they use or fail to use these opportunities, if they have them at all.

The Baboyans from
Village Kush

Women from
Kamarlo

 Greek Woman
from Tsalka

 Nazi Bolkvadze
 and her Friends

Natela Argvliani's
Family

05/03/2014
The Baboyans from Village Kush

Armenians have been living in Kvemo Kartli for centuries. According to the 2002 census 31,777 out of 497,530 Kvemo Kartli residents were Armenians. The number of Armenians is highest in Tsalka where 11,484 Armenians live, out of a total population of 20977. The advent of Armenians in Georgia was related to the movement of people during the Arab, Turk-Seljuk, Mongolian, Turkmen, Kizilbash, Ottoman Turk and other invasions. Several major settlements of Armenians took place in 1828-1829, during the Russian-Turkish war

04/03/2014
Pikria, Phanura and Other Women from Kamarlo

Azerbaijanis living in Kvemo Kartli are Turkic-speaking people representing the legacy of the conquerors that came to this area at different times. in the 1926 Census they were referred to as Azerbaijanis. The Azeri population that settled in Kartli is comprised of two streams of migrants: 1. The Turkish-speaking population that was resettled between 15th-18th centuries; they went through the heaviest psychological and physical stress before they adapted to the new place. 2. Migrants who moved from one place to another to improve living conditions having adapted to the new environment. Currently the Azeri population in Georgia numbers 224,606. They mainly reside in Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Gardabani and Marneuli districts, mostly in district centers apart from in Dmanisi muniiciaplity where there are many Azeri villages. Some live in Tetritskaro and Tsalka districts.

02/03/2014
Greek Woman from Tslaka
A small group of Greeks was settled by Erekle II (King of Kartli and Kakheti in the 18th century) back in 1763 in Kvemo Kartli. They worked in Akhtala copper, lead, silver and gold mines and were highly skilled in this business. The next resettlement took place in 1806-1807, and the following in 1829-1830. Turkish-speaking Greeks as well as Greeks speaking the Pontus dialect were resettled to Georgia. The study of archive materials tells us that the biggest stream of Greek migrants entered Georgia during the aforementioned period and their majority settled in Tsalka and Tetritskaro areas.
28/02/2014
Nazi Bolkvadze and her Friends

In 1980’s the planned settlement of a large groups of eco-migrant Ajarians and Svanetians started in Tetritskaro and Tsalka municipalities. There were several streams of eco-migration up to 2003. The advent of these incomers has left its mark on Kvemo Kartli. It became richer from an ethnic, religious and language standpoint, however it also gave rise to new problems and challenges for new and old residents alike in seeking to adapt to the new cultural diversity.

25/02/2014
Natela Argvliani's Family

The first settlement of Svans into Kvemo Kartli took place in 1987. This is when the Svans from landslide-affected Chviberi (higher Svaneti) were resettled in Dmanisi, in the houses built under a government programme. Svans started to introduce their style of life in Kvemo Kartli and establish strong communities in Kvemo Kartli.

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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. 
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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.