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Cheese Story

Name: Natural Produktsia Ltd

Place: Dioknisi Village, Khulo Municipality

Type of business: Cheese Factory

Product: Imeruli Cheese

Suppliers: about 450 women from 13 villages of Khulo

Current production per day: 5 tons of milk  (700 kg of cheese) 


The Problem

The 450 women now selling milk directly to the milk collectors of the Natural Produktsia Ltd Factory in Dioknisi, Khulo used to make cheese from their milk.  Women are responsible for milking the household cattle and making the cheese, butter, sour cream and cottage cheese which is then sold as an important part of the family’s livelihood.

Selling these products however is hard and uncertain. The journey by marshutka to Batumi Agrarian Market can take up to 4 hours on bad roads. It is taken to the market by husbands or other male family members or sent with the driver and met by a relative who then tries to sell it. There is no guarantee of a sale and often the family is forced to accept a low price from the market vendors rather than take it home again.

 
The Idea

The idea for the factory came from a member of an old Khulo farming family, Arcadi.  His brother, Tsezari was already in the dairy business in Tsalka with his mother, where, hoping to escape the lack of opportunity in Khulo they moved to Kvemo Kartli and started a small cheese factory in a cowshed.  This cowshed is now a purpose built factory with its Sulguni cheese supplying Carrefour and the 5 star hotels of Batumi. Alliances KK had helped them do it. Arcadi was already selling his brother’s Sulguni cheese from the familiy’s distribution outlet in Batumi Market, but Sulguni only makes up 20% of the market the other 80% is for Imeruli.  When Alliances opened in Ajara in 2014, Arcadi saw his chance. He proposed a small factory collecting milk from the upper mountain villages making Imeruli cheese.  The gamble was that Imeruli sells for 2 lari less per kilo than Sulguni and you have to make and sell a lot more of it to make a profit.


The Solution

450 women are now selling milk directly to the milk collectors of the Natural Produktsia Ltd Factory in Dioknisi, Khulo. The building which opened in September 2015 is compliant with the new food safety and hygiene requirements and equipped with, with new modern dairy equipment.  

Milk collectors from the factory collect the milk daily from the women in their houses. The women were specially trained by a food safety consultant in producing clean milk. The women save two hours a day from not having to make cheese, they save the costs of wood or gas for heating the milk to make it and other materials such as pepsin.  The family is saved the costs and time and worry of having to get to Batumi and sell the cheese.


The End and the Beginning

The programme and Arcadi were unsure of how much milk there would be.  People had said how poor the little red Ajaran cow was, how despairing the rural population. Ajara however has a magic, special even to Georgia, when the news went out that the factory was open the villagers decided en masse to sell.  Overnight more milk than anyone imagined was available.  The factory is processing 5 tonnes of milk about 700kg of cheese a day at a time of year when many dairy factories are thinking of shutting down for the winter as milk supply dwindles until the following spring. They have turned milk away as they have yet the capacity to process more. Expansion is already on the cards.  Of the cheese itself the fat content is high and the milk itself from the high mountain pastures of pristine Ajara.  The cheese moreover is delicious. The queues out the door of Aracadi’s distribution outlet in Batumi Market and the fact it’s sold out by midday testify to that.

OTHER BLOG POSTS
7/06/2016
Bees in Town







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.

06/06/2016
Women’s Rooms in Ajara

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.

30/11/2015
Vet Story

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. 

08/06/2015
Female Farmers in Ajara

“Women in Georgia – Tradition and Contemporaneity” is a short documentary film prepared by ‘Netgazeti’ (online newspaper) about women living in Ghordjomi Community (Khulo Municipality, Ajara). Ghordjomi is one of the largest Muslim communities in Ajara and is known for its early marriage traditions, and other strict rules and attitudes towards women. The film describes the harsh daily routine of the women starting from 6 am in the morning with taking care of the cattle, children, household and the restrictions they face in daily life. 

The ALCP AJ programme’s Focus Group Survey and Gender Analysis captured these issues and also noted the consequent effect on the participation of women in the decision-making processes at the community and local governmental levels which is chronically low. 

13/02/2015
Harmonize, but do not Harm!

From the ISET Economist Blog (http://www.iset.ge/blog/?p=4633)

By Eric Livny

The “do no harm” (primum non nocere) principle is well known to students of medical schools. It is one of the most fundamental maxims in medicine, as formulated, for example, in the Epidemics book of the Hippocratic Collection:

“The physician must … have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm“.

Doctors are taught that medical interventions are not risk-free. Thus, when facing a “problem” one should consider whether to use a particular procedure (e.g. surgery or chemical treatment) or do NOTHING.

Not surprisingly, this very principle has applications in many fields other than healthcare. And it is high time for this principle to be studied and applied in Georgian policymaking.

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.

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.