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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
17/11/2020
Georgian Milk Mark in Ministry Magazine

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.


15/07/2020
Georgian Beekeeping Highlighted in German Magazine

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.


29/10/2020
Improvements in Sheep Shearing


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.

09/10/2020
VET Colleges to Teach Jara Wild Honey Production

On October 8th, the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) hosted representatives of thirteen VET colleges from across Georgia and sectoral skills organization Agro Duo in Tbilisi. The meeting occasioned the integration of Jara honey production as a topic in VET college beekeeping programmes, something that the Georgian Beekeepers Union have been facilitating over the last year.

The participants received the Jara Honey Production Handbook and Bio Certification Guidelines for Beekeepers; and were introduced to two new websites www.honeyofgeorgia.com and www.jarahoney.com and a honey promotion video Discover Georgia: The Land of the Oldest Honey.

This year Akhali Talga VET College in Kobuleti and Khulo integrated the Jara materials into their one-year beekeeping programme in which twenty-eight beekeeper students are attending. At the meeting, Akhali Talga VET College shared their experience of successfully integrating the Jara materials into their beekeeping programme.

‘I had many calls before and after the meeting and I can say that the interest from the colleges is very high. We will provide support required and I am sure from the next year there will be more programmes with the Jara materials and improved content.’ – Aleko Papava, the Head of the GBU.

At the beginning of the meeting, the GBU and sectoral skills organization Agro Duo signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to work together to integrate Jara materials into the beekeeping programmes in all VET colleges in Georgia.

Jara is traditional wild beekeeping producing unique and pure honey rarely practiced nowadays, except for remote dwellings located in the subtropical and alpine zone of Georgia. However, for the first time in decades Jara production is being practiced again by new beekeepers or taken up again by those who had stopped. In 2018 the Jara Beekeepers Association was formed to represent producer interest and in the country first, twenty-three Jara beekeepers in Ajara have received Bio certification. Jara honey was commercially harvested and branded for the first time in 2018 and since then the market for Jara honey has grown in strength which is why the producers decided to become Bio Certified to further increase the value of their product. The Jara honey mark was registered this year to further protect this culturally important product.  

06/10/2020
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.

24/09/2020
Third Georgian Dairy Exports to USA

In mid September, dairy enterprise Tsintskaro+ Ltd in Kvemo Kartli sent 280 kg of different types of cheese (Sulguni, Smoked Sulguni, Georgian Cheese) and clarified butter produced by Milkeni Ltd through distribution company Geoproduct Ltd,  for sale in New York, USA after positive feedback received on product samples sent earlier in August. Both dairies are members of the Georgian Milk Mark the quality assurance label for Georgian natural milk and their products bare the GMM. The company expects a repeat order for at least 250 kg in the near future.

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