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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.

The village of Kamarlo is located next to the picturesque Lake Yaguflo. A worn-down road leads to the village located eight kilometres from the town of Dmanisi. According to the last census in Georgia performed in 2002, the population of the village was 713 people; all of them ethnic Azeris. Pikria Abdulaeva is amongst the village’s residents. She belongs to both cultures. She is an Azeri from her father’s side and Georgian from her mother’s. Azeri is the language of the village. Pikria speaks Georgian and served as the interpreter for our visit. Our arrival in the village caused a stir and the women invited by Pikria started arriving at the home of Phanura Kurbanova. In the garden the women explained how they make kizyak or fuel for winter. First, cow manure is leveled to the same thickness and is left to dry. Later, it is cut into pieces with a shovel. The pieces are then stacked in a sunny and ventilated place where they will be left to dry through summer and autumn, until the cold weather begins. This process turns the material into fuel. Kizyak is often made by women and children. The women then listed every activity they had performed that day from making bread to tending cattle to putting up wallpaper. Shoes were removed to enter the house. 

The women recounted their memory of state farms. “Now it is easier, because there are no state farms. We used to work from morning until night and then come home and continue working in the house. In autumn, sometimes they would give ten tons of potatoes to each family and we had to manage this ourselves, carrying them, drying them, loading them, selling them or storing them for winter”. But for others, the state farms are associated with better times. Guliaz Gajieva is over 100 years old. she herself asserts she is 112. “We worked a lot but it was good work. I was even invited into the Central Committee of the Party as a leading worker, once”. Guliaz used to milk cows.

The women were enjoying the conversation. First, they maintained the attitude that “everything is good” and did not talk about problems. Gradually, however, they opened up. Out of the ten women who articipated in the conversation, four were divorced, half of them had lost husbands or sons, two women were married at the age of 14 and one of them had been bride-kidnapped. Often, women are complicit in these kidnappings. Gulazar was kidnapped as a bride for Pikria’s (her now mother in law’s) cousin. She was 14 and the groom was 26. Now Gulazar and Pikria share the same last name and are on good terms with each other, despite Pikria’s involvement in the kidnapping 17 years ago. Gulazar gave birth when she was 17. She had the baby in Baku and told the doctor about the circumstances surrounding her marriage. The Doctor sent a message to the village, saying “one of your young girls was forced into marriage at the age of 14! Take some measures!” The young husband could easily have been brought to justice for the forced marriage but they managed to avoid this through the help of some acquaintances in the right places. “Why didn’t you spare the girl?”, we asked Pikria. “Why?”, she answers. “Now, she has such a handsome husband who is the representative of the rural council”. Gulazar, who was listening, laughed along with the story as well.

The other women related stories of their marriages. Kheyala had not been bride-kidnapped but, rather, was matched with her husband when she was 14. She lived in the neighbouring village of Salamalik where there only was an elementary school which did not take her beyond the fourth grade. Before marrying, she lived with her parents where she looked after the household. She says, “If we had had a better school, then maybe they would not have married me off at such early age”. Kheyala has three children and added that three children are enough and that she will not let her daughter marry before she turns 19 or 20.

The issue with daughters is a critical one. On the one hand, the mothers do not want their daughters to have the same lives they did. On the other, they see that it is not easy to change the situation.

Alida Nasibova is 42 years old. She related the hard story of her divorce ten years ago. Alida is now raising her only child, a daughter. Her ex-husband has since died. Alida works as a teacher of the lower grades in the village school and provides every incentive she can to her daughter to study. She has big hopes that she will be able to change her life by getting an education. Pikria works at the village school as a teacher of Georgian. She says that the attendance of younger students is much better than the attendance of the older ones. Pikria says that her son is the only graduate who is continuing his education in Tbilisi. The majority of school graduates do not continue their studies.

   

Villagers travel to Baku fairly often, not for education but to visit relatives or for short-term work. Migration within Georgia is hampered by the language barrier which means that they do not travel much to other districts in Georgia. Phanura is a widow of over a year and wears a mourning kerchief and almost never smiles but she is quick, responsive and open and does everything quickly and silently. For her guests she made khinkali which consisted of thinly rolled boiled dough with butter and a sauce made from sour milk with herbs and spices. Sakna Gajieva is Phanura’s neighbour who came to speak with us briefly before getting back to baking bread at her house. She gave us hot bread for the way back and Phanura gave us some cheese as well. We were very touched by their hospitality, help and openness.

OTHER NEWS
04/08/2020
Goderdzi Alpine Garden is Now Open

Located in Khulo, Ajara at 2000m above sea level, the Goderdzi Alpine Garden is now open. On Thursday, two hundred guests from government, municipal agencies, non-governmental and international organizations, travel agencies, scientists and botanists attended the opening ceremony.

Huge government support was there.

‘Opening of this natural monument will help Khulo municipality with further growth. We are working on the development of the local infrastructure. Those works together are increasing income for locals. My Special thanks to the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency, Adjaristskalli LLC, and other organizations for making this project happen.’ – Tornike Rijvadze, the Chairman of the Ajara Autonomous Republic.

The Swiss Ambassador highlighted how natural treasure can positively impact local habitants, the means of quality-oriented tourism.

‘From the very beginning, we acknowledged the importance of the Goderdzi Alpine Garden not only for the region but also for Georgia at large. It is the initiative where eco-friendly tourism and agriculture are forcing each other for the benefit of rural settlers of the mountainous Ajara. It is also helping market with locally produced cheese, wild Jara honey and other local product.’ – Patric Franzen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Switzerland to Georgia.

The Goderdzi Alpine Garden is an example of public-private cooperation.

‘Important thing about this is the sharing. We had a vision, we went to the Batumi Botanical Garden and shared this vision of taking this beauty and using it in the countryside so that all the people living here can also enjoy this vision. The opening of this garden is a symbol of positivity in a very negative time globally, a symbol of people getting together for something good.’ – Helen Bradbury, the ALCP Team Leader.

The main backer of the Goderdzi Alpine Garden is the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented Alliances Caucasus Programme (ALCP). The project is supported by the Hydropower Company Adjaristskali and the Government of Ajara Autonomous Republic. The garden is being developed with the backstopping of Munich and Lautaret Botanic Gardens

Follow the links on the opening of the Goderdzi Alpine Garden: Ajara TV, Imedi TV, Ajara Government FB, Ajara Tourism Department FB.


16/07/2020
Second Georgian Milk Mark (GMM) Dairy Export Cheese to USA


Last week, Tsivis Kveli Ltd in Kakheti distributed 250 kg different types of GMM cheese through the distribution company Georgian Imports in hypermarkets and cafés throughout Chicago. The dairy is now planning the next export in a few weeks. 

17/06/2020
ILO ALCP Dairy Study Now Out

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Cheese, better work: The Alliances Caucasus Programme’s Impact on Informality and Working Conditions in Georgia’s Dairy Sector which explores formalization within  the dairy value chain in Georgia stemming from ALCP market systems interventions, is now available on the ALCP website.

The ILO and ALCP worked together from summer 2019 to bring this research to completion. There are several reasons for the timeliness and importance of this report; chief amongst them is the ever present need for lessons learnt from MSD programmes, which can be applied in others, secondly the need to demonstrate the efficacy of the approach with a detailed account of systemic change and thirdly the growing importance in development programming of evaluating the efficacy of the MSD approach to develop quality employment at scale. 

10/06/2020
Georgian Milk Mark on National TV

From the beginning of June, the two most popular national TV stations Imedi TV and TV Pirveli have been broadcasting the Georgian Milk Mark (GMM) animation video five times a day during prime time for free as a part of social advertising. Those televisions have national coverage reaching a high number of consumers.

There are now ten GMM dairy enterprises’ products available in fifteen supermarket chains across Georgia. Detailed information to be found on www.georgianmilk.ge.

22/05/2020
New Beekeeper Info Links Launched

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.

 

21/05/2020
Beekeepers Union Keeps Bees Moving

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).


LATEST NEWS
Goderdzi Alpine Garden is Now Open
04/08/2020
Located in Khulo, Ajara at 2000m above sea level, the Goderdzi Alpine Garden is now open. On Thursday, two hundred guests from government, municipal agencies, non-governmental and international organizations, travel agencies, scientists and botanists attended the opening ceremony. Huge government support was there. ‘Opening of this natural monument will help Khulo municipality with further growth. We are working on the development of the local infrastructure. Those works together are increasing income for locals. My Special thanks to the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency, Adjaristskalli LLC, and other organizations for making this project happen.’ – Tornike Rijvadze, the Chairman of the Ajara Autonomous Republic. The Swiss Ambassador highlighted how natural treasure can positively impact local habitants, the means of quality-oriented tourism. ‘From the very beginning, we acknowledged the importance of the Goderdzi Alpine Garden not only for the region but also for Georgia at large. It is the initiative where eco-friendly tourism and agriculture are forcing each other for the benefit of rural settlers of the mountainous Ajara. It is also helping market with locally produced cheese, wild Jara honey and other local product.’ – Patric Franzen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Switzerland to Georgia. The Goderdzi Alpine Garden is an example of public-private cooperation. ‘Important thing about this is the sharing. We had a vision, we went to the Batumi Botanical Garden and shared this vision of taking this beauty and using it in the countryside so that all the people living here can also enjoy this vision. The opening of this garden is a symbol of positivity in a very negative time globally, a symbol of people getting together for something good.’ – Helen Bradbury, the ALCP Team Leader. The main backer of the Goderdzi Alpine Garden is the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented Alliances Caucasus Programme (ALCP). The project is supported by the Hydropower Company Adjaristskali and the Government of Ajara Autonomous Republic. The garden is being developed with the backstopping of Munich and Lautaret Botanic Gardens.  Follow the links on the opening of the Goderdzi Alpine Garden: Ajara TV, Imedi TV, Ajara Government FB, Ajara Tourism Department FB.
Second Georgian Milk Mark (GMM) Dairy Export Cheese to USA
16/07/2020
Last week, Tsivis Kveli Ltd in Kakheti distributed 250 kg different types of GMM cheese through the distribution company Georgian Imports in hypermarkets and cafés throughout Chicago. The dairy is now planning the next export in a few weeks. 
ILO ALCP Dairy Study Now Out
17/06/2020
The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Cheese, better work: The Alliances Caucasus Programme’s Impact on Informality and Working Conditions in Georgia’s Dairy Sector which explores formalization within  the dairy value chain in Georgia stemming from ALCP market systems interventions, is now available on the ALCP website. The ILO and ALCP worked together from summer 2019 to bring this research to completion. There are several reasons for the timeliness and importance of this report; chief amongst them is the ever present need for lessons learnt from MSD programmes, which can be applied in others, secondly the need to demonstrate the efficacy of the approach with a detailed account of systemic change and thirdly the growing importance in development programming of evaluating the efficacy of the MSD approach to develop quality employment at scale. 
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