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Honey Testing as a Constraint for the Georgian Honey Export

Honey testing requirements for export and laboratory testing capability and reality in Georgia were the main topics of the ALCP Second Honey Sector Advisory Committee meeting on 9th of October, 2019. The meeting gathered up to forty key stakeholders of the sector, including the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU), the Minister and Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Head of the National Food Agency, the Laboratory of Ministry of Agriculture (LMA), private laboratories, a honey exporter company Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking KTW.

A laboratory service subsidy scheme was presented at the meeting, that serves for supporting honey export development through creating accessible and affordable laboratory  testing services for the Georgian beekeepers and honey exporters, which still remains as one of the key constrains for exporting Georgian honey abroad.

“For me, the honey sector is one of the most complex sectors in agriculture and I think the format of this meeting helps us with finding the best solutions to keep the sector going. I am pleased that today’s topic concerns honey laboratory testing, as we are determined to make honey as an export product. We have already made some important steps, like, participation in Apimondia 2019 and other important events for honey promotion. I think we can elaborate and agree on a future working model” – Levan Davitashvili, the Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.

“Access to affordable laboratory services will not only decrease prime cost of honey, but will ensure quality honey to be sold at local and international markets” – stated Mikheil Tetruashvili, the GBU board member.

The Minster of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia appointed a focal point in the Ministry to improve communication with beekeepers. The meeting participants agreed to continue work on the topic together with the MEPA and NFA.

The meeting was facilitated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented the Alliances Caucasus Programme (ALCP). 

Photo Source: The Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia

OTHER NEWS
24/04/2019
Spread of 'Georgian Milk Mark'

Seven dairy enterprises are using the Georgian Milk Mark: Milkeni Ltd Rustavi, KK; Tsintskaro + Ltd Tetritskaro, KK; Khiza Ltd Akhaltsikhe, SJ; Badri Gogoladze I.E Bolnisi, KK; Gocha Gagashvili I.E Telavi, Kakheti; Tsolak Grigorian I.E Ninotsminda, SJ; Karen Simonian I.E Akhalkalaki, SJ.  

Six dairy enterprises are being audited: Imeruli Ltd Marneuli, KK; Zekari Ltd Terjola, Imereti; Tsezari Ltd Khulo, AJTsalka KK; JTA Ltd Tsalka, KK; Ramaz Nazrashvili I.E Gori, Shida Kartli; Tanadgoma Gardabani, KK.

The products with the mark are available in Spar; Nikora; Zgapari; Fresco and Madagoni supermarkets’ chain.

Eleven additional dairy enterprises have already applied to use the mark.

Billboards of the mark are on Tsereteli Avenue, in Vake Tbilisi; Rustavi; Kutaisi and Akhaltsikhe.

Information per enterprise is uploaded on a www.georgianmilk.ge. This allows consumers to look up the products they are buying using a unique register number printed on the label.

GMA international marketing company has been conducting a national promotion campaign to introduce the mark to the public and retailers since the end of March. Facebook  of the mark is active with more than 3,000 subscribers/consumers.  

The Georgian Milk Mark is officially registered and serves to distinguish dairy products made from natural milk.

Follow the links on the Georgian Milk MarkFermaAgrinewsImedis DilaRadio MarneuliMarneuli TVGeorgiandairy.orgAgrokavkaz.geInterpressnews.geAmbebi.ge

       

02/04/2019
Masterclass for New Agri Journalism Students

Up to thirty students of the agri journalism course at the journalism department attended a lecture given by the ALCP programme Team Leader Helen Bradbury in the state university. Agriculture and tourism; environmental protection, preservation and biodiversity; the honey, sheep and dairy sectors; Georgia’s rich cultural heritage and its main treasure - people/farmers with their strong traditions were the main themes of the lecture.

All the students highlighted that the lecture was inspirational, they did not know many things, found different perspectives of agriculture and environment and they will report about the themes in the future.

Agriculture is about people and you should do your work with your heart if you want people to be opened to you. Try to understand the process and choose your own path. Be different and always find something new that no one else can see.’ - Helen Bradbury, Team Leader of the ALCP programme.

Since spring fifty-three students have been learning agri journalism as a selective module for two hours/week, during the whole semester at the state university. 

We see more and more reports about agriculture but it is not enough. Reporting about rural life, people and agriculture is very important and it is our and your responsibility to think about it and be more enthusiastic as you are future journalists or media managers.’ - Natia Kuprashvili, Head of the Journalism Resource Center.

Fourteen universities in Georgia, four in Armenia and one in Azerbaijan established or are establishing agri journalism module in their courses. 369 students have already studied the course.

20/03/2019
Spread of Honey Promotion Video

The ALCP facilitated the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) in development of the honey promotion video, depicting the story of Georgia as a land of the oldest honey discovered and unique biodiversity to support awareness raising and promote export potential of Georgian honey and Jara. The video was shared with different stakeholders and social networks.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared it with their internal networks of embassies in Georgia and foreign countries and it was uploaded in a Georgian production section. The video is on Facebook of the  Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. The Georgian National Tourism Agency; The Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara; the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture; and The Agency of Protected Areas are sharing it with their network.

It has reached the highest views on the popular Facebook platforms Marketer.ge and Georgian WineTo date the video has 185,000 views and 6,000 shares. The majority of the viewers are emphasizing on interesting story mentioned in the video they did not know before and are sharing it for further promotion.

13/03/2019
'Georgian Milk Mark' now in Supermarkets

The products with 'Georgian Milk Mark' are now available in the supermarkets of Georgia.

The 'Georgian Milk Mark' is officially registered and serves to distinguish dairy products made from natural milk. 

01/03/2019
Jara is now available on Amazon

The documentary Jara is now available for sale on amazon

Jara is a fairy tale journey through one year in the mountains of Ajara. A story of the shifting boundary between human habitat and wild nature, portrays everyday lives in the changing seasons. The wooden jara in the forest and the bees living within it are the fixed point in the story.

The film was named as the best feature film at the Wolves Independent International Film Festival2018 in Lithuania, and won the Golden Green Award 2018 at the Deauville Green Awards International Film Festival in France for the best production in the category of Sustainable Agriculture; the cameramen of the movie received an award from International Festival of TV and Movie Cameramen the Golden Eye 2018 for Best TV Camera Work.

The main backer of Jara is the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme.

                                                   

21/02/2019
First Time: Packaged Jara Honey

Jara honey, collected from the local beekeepers in Ajara, has been officially branded and packaged for the first time. It is now ready to enter the international markets. 

LATEST NEWS
New Beekeeper Info Links Launched
22/05/2020
On the May 20th, 4,400 beekeepers registered in the new GBU database received an SMS notification from the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) on how to treat Varroa, the most common bee disease in Georgia. The GBU will continue informing its members through phone Facebook. And their new official webpage is now online: www.geobeekeepers.ge. Created in 2018, the GBU is an umbrella association uniting ten beekeeping associations and three commercial beekeeping companies.  
Beekeepers Union Keeps Bees Moving
21/05/2020
The Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) successfully advocated for permits to be issued for beekeepers allowing them to continue work during the curfew. The Government of Georgia declared the nationwide curfew on March 30th, 2020 to restrict the spread of the COVID-19 virus, prohibiting any movement from 9:00 PM to 06:00 AM. This posed a serious problem for beekeepers who rely on transhumance predominantly at night. In Georgia, bee transhumance allows for beekeepers to place hives at different altitudes to capture the flowering of different plants. Starting from late Spring, Georgian beekeepers start to move apiaries to get different types of honey including Acacia,Chestnut, Alpine, Linden. The transhumance of bees significantly increases their honey productivity. On April 4th, the GBU sent an official letter to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) asking for the issuing of permission/passes for beekeepers including the guidance it developed for beekeepers during the Covid-19 outbreak. ‘We asked the Minister to mediate with the appropriate agencies to issue special permits, so that beekeepers may access their apiaries and work there, transport beekeeping apiaries for transhumance on pre-determined routes within the curfew conditions.’ – Avksenti Papava, the Director of the GBU. Up to eight hundred beekeepers have already used permits, who are now able to visit apiaries and carry out vital seasonal treatment and maintenance.  Bees are transported at night where possible, because they do not leave a hive during night, which the permit makes possible. ‘I have my apiaries located in the different regions for getting various types of honey. I was very happy to hear about special permit for beekeepers, as it is very active season in beekeeping. I am able to freely move to the locations and do not worry about time limitations’ – Kakhaber Zirakasvili, a beekeeper. Guidance and contact information on getting permits and the Covid-19 recommendations have been shared by the GBU on its facebook page. The Georgian Beekeepers Union (www.geobeekeepers.ge) is an umbrella association uniting ten beekeeping associations and three commercial beekeeping companies with more than four thousand Georgian beekeepers. It was established to represent their interests and to promote the health and development of the honey sector in Georgia with the facilitation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented Alliances Caucasus Programme (ALCP).
Kindness is Contagious
19/05/2020
In the midst of anxiety under the COVID-19, some people rise to the occasion when faced with adversity and it is uplifting to hear stories about them. As for many others it has been difficult times for the client businesses of the programme, but they have continued to help people most affected by the current crisis over the past two weeks.   Ten dairy enterprises with the Georgian Milk Mark www.georgianmilk.ge provided cheese for the medical staff of hospitals in the frontline of battling the virus as well as people under quarantine and locals in the lockdown areas in the different regions of Georgia, who have limited access to the markets. ‘It is now important to show support to each other. I was very happy to see reactions from people, who were very surprised and thankful. I think those GMM enterprises set very good example for others.’ – A GMM cheese distributor.   The Georgian Beekeepers Union (www.geobeekeepers.ge), uniting ten beekeeping associations and three commercial beekeeping companies supplied 1.2 tonnes of honey for further distribution among medical staff and vulnerable groups. The Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking group’s (programme facilitated honey aggregator and exporter company) forty-one rooms hotel-complex is being used as a quarantine zone, the company also supplied food to locals over seventy in two regions of Georgia within a social project ‘Care for Each Other’ initiated after the virus outbreak and is now offering online sales and a free home delivery of its products (wine, compotes, jams, including, honey); the company’s webpage Old Kakheti went online to improve online sales. These are a few examples and continuation of the kindness acts that started a month ago.
LATEST PUBLICATIONS
Covid-19 Guidance for Beekeepers
A Pragmatic Approach to Assessing System Change
FAO Bee Disease Guide