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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 NEWS
26/05/2021
A New Veterinary Surveillance Point in Mtskheta-Mtianeti Region

A seventh Veterinary Surveillance Point (VSP) of the National Food Agency (NFA) opened recently in Dusheti municipality to serve nomadic farmers migrating on the north part of the Animal Movement Route of Georgia. This is the first and the only VSP in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, where disinfection of sheep and cattle against ecto-parasites is provided by the State. Up to 100,000 head of sheep will be dipped there during every transhumance season, free of charge.

The point was constructed by the NFA following the petition of shepherds from the region at the ALCP’s 11th Advisory Committee meeting and was approved by the Minister of Environmental Protection & Agriculture – Levan Davitashvili in March 2019, based on the positive benefits of the existing points.

In 2015 the VSP model was created by the ALCP commissioned British livestock expert Edward Hamer and an MOU was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, the NFA and the ALCP to construct six VSPs, two of them were financed by the programme and four by the State. In 2016-2018 all six points were finalized and opened. This year additional water points were also opened on the route. The VSP’s record and monitor the nomadic sheep and cattle population and underpin Georgia’s credibility in livestock export markets.

24/05/2021
Where the streets are paved with gold: Georgian Honey Goes to London

As Dick Whittington found out the London streets are not literally paved with gold. However four Georgian honey companies are participating in a celebration of the liquid kind. The London International Honey Awards held from May 30-31st, have two main award categories: quality and design, and feature honeys from all over the world, from Canada to the Mediterranean to New Zealand and everything in between. Competition is fierce. The four Georgian honey companies, Nena, Rukhi Queen, Honey and Irinola Company and Cooperative Kodi, were supported to participate by the Embassy of Georgia to the UK and the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU). 

21/05/2021
VET Meets Jara

On May 18th-19th, twelve VET college representatives from seven regions of Georgia attended a Training of Trainers in Jara Honey Production hosted by the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) and the Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) in Keda, Medzibna Village.

The trainees learnt how to teach beekeeping students Jara honey production and how to obtain Bio certification. They also visited a Bio certified Jara apiary and the Agro-Keda factory to see the process of Jara honey processing and packaging.

Akhali Talga VET College in Kobuleti and Khulo, who have already integrated the Jara teaching materials into their one-year beekeeping programme since October 2020, also shared their experience of including and teaching Jara production.  

‘I am happy to attend this training, as I learned a lot. I am ready to teach Jara beekeeping to my students, because it will make our beekeeping programme even more interesting.’ – Ilia Khazarishvili, a lecturer at the Public College Aisi, Kakheti.

‘I am glad that all of the colleges now acknowledge that Jara teaching is an essential part of Georgian beekeeping programmes. During these two days they heard about a wide range of Jara topics, for example, Bio certification, which was impressive for them. Now they are convinced that Jara teaching has a future and this will help them to attract more students to beekeeping. They also saw the demand from businesses after visiting two Jara honey processing entities.’ - Aleko Papava, the Head of the GBU.

The National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement and sectoral skills organization Agro Duo are supporting Jara teaching integration in the VET colleges.

On June 1st, the GBU is organizing an online event Highlights So Far: Jara in VET, which is bringing together VET colleges, specialists, agro journalists, donors, and public officials to further promote Jara teaching in VET colleges and share reflections on the training.


10/05/2021
Jara Attracts International Media

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an international media organization broadcasting in twenty-seven languages in twenty-three countries, published an article about Jara: Georgia’s Cliff-Top Honey Harvest by an international photographer/journalist Amos Chapple. He reached out to the Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) and travelled to Ajara to see Jara beekeepers climbing heights for Jara honey harvest. Radio Tavisupleba (Radio Liberty Georgia) also put a Georgian version of the article on its website.


14/04/2021
The First International Agri Journalism Conference

On April 13th, an online event of the Journalism Resource Center (JRC) International Conference in Agricultural Journalism and Agricultural Education brought together regional academic and media representatives from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine. The enthusiasm for, dedication towards and interest in agri journalism and its importance for people and youth were striking.

The Deputy Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) did the opening speech. The representatives from Georgia showed that they understand the demand for and are fully engaged in the media market for agri journalism. 

‘Agri journalism is an integrated course for bachelor’s students. After Training of Trainers for lecturers we will develop a separate course. We also see the demand from students. Cooperation with media and government agencies is crucial in this regard.’ - A representative from Brusov State University in Armenia.

A freelance journalist from Baku talked about the usage of multimedia tools in agri journalism. The field of agri journalism is attractive but seems difficult to attain to media representatives from Moldova and Ukraine. A Producer of Volinsk Branch of National Public TV and Radio Company of Ukraine expressed his willingness to co-operate with the JRC to copy some activities related to agri journalism.

‘I am surprised by hearing about Georgia and Armenia, where agricultural education works so well’. - The LikTV Founder in Moldova, who empathized with the difficulties expressed by the representative of Ukraine and stated that universities in Moldova need to work on establishing agricultural journalism.

The ALCP Team Leader spoke about the programme support for agri journalism development in an interview on Agrogaremo TV. An agri journalism course alumni shared his experience and motivation with the JRC. A short documentary video by the JRC tells us a story about agri journalism development.

16/02/2021
Georgian Honey Export Expands

Nena a honey export company has been exporting since 2019. Chestnut and Jara honey have been sold in twenty shops in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey from January, 2021. Nena also exported Jara honey to Japan. And by the end of February, Bio Jara honey, a new product will be exported to the USA. Canada is a promising market and has repeated its order for the fourth time.

LATEST NEWS
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.
Georgian Milk Day
09/07/2021
On Friday, July 9th, from 10 am until 2 pm, the Business Institute of Georgia (BIG) who manages the Georgian Milk Mark, and the Georgian Milk Federation held a Georgian Milk Day.  The Georgian Milk Mark which started in 2019 now has twenty one dairies currently using the mark. This B2B (Business to Business) event was to bring together the twenty one dairies who presented their products for show and tasting with invited hospitality and retail sector guests. COVID-19 has taken a toll on both sectors and it is hoped that bringing them together will be advantage to them both, in terms of sales for the dairies and supplying quality Georgian products for the HoReCa and retail sectors. The Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, the Head of the Agrarian Committee of the Parliament, First Deputy Head of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament gave a speech at the opening of the event. The National Food Agency, the State Laboratory of Agriculture, the Rural Development Agency and the Georgian National Tourism Administration participated in the event.  From June 1st 2021 a new regulation requires HoReCa sector actors to become HACCP certified. The NFA had an information desk at the event to answer questions and provide information.Everyone visited the GMM dairies and viewed and tasted their products.  The event was supported by Alliances Caucasus Programme (ALCP) which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADA) implemented by Mercy Corps Georgia. Here you can see photos of the event Gallery . You can see here media reports: https://bm.ge; https://www.interpressnews.ge; https://www.palitranews.ge; https://mepa.gov.ge; MEPAGeorgia https://formula.ge Businesspartner
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