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First Bio Certified Honey in Georgia

In a country first, eighteen Jara beekeepers in Ajara have received Bio certification. Jara honey was not even commercially harvested and branded until 2018, however the market for the honey has proved its strength so successfully that the beekeepers saw the opportunity to further promote their product through bio certification.  

The conversion was relatively simple and certainly achievable as Jara honey is based on the capture of wild swarms and is relatively hands off. Since November 2018, the Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) has been facilitating training and on-site recommendations; it also provides treatment of hives with a Bio vet medicine and special equipment for the mentioned Jara beekeepers. The beekeepers now follow the bio requirements; including keeping records, better husbandry, use of bio vet medicine. This allowed for smooth journey through the minimum one-year conversion period for certification.

Caucascert, the only organic certification company in Georgia issued the internationally recognized Bio certificates after laboratory results and field checks, which did not show any incompliance.

‘I am very proud that I was able to get Bio certification. It was challenging, as I did not have any kind of information before, but support from the JBA was crucial. I can already see the outcomes, because the process already contributed to minimizing disease risk and increase productivity of a Jara hive by thirty percent’ – Bio certified Jara beekeeper from Keda municipality.

Six more Jara beekeepers, including the Jara apiary in the Goderdzi Alpine Garden, are currently undergoing the certification process and might obtain certification by the end of this year.

The Jara honey mark was registered in February, 2020 and both its production and the market for it, including export is growing. More details on Jara honey to be found on www.jarahoney.com.

OTHER NEWS
01/04/2013
Gender Guidelines for Village Reps

These Guidelines for the Application and Implementation of the Law on Gender Equality of Georgia by Local Self Government Bodies was developed with members of the Local Self Governments of Dmanisi, Tsalka and Tetritskaro municipalities in line with an initiative supported by the Regional Government of Kvemo Kartli

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. 

05/11/2015
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.

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. 

LATEST NEWS
The Georgian Beekeepers Union Celebrates Three Years Anniversary
20/12/2021
On December 20th, the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) hosted an event to celebrate its third anniversary inviting key honey sector stakeholders to Hualing Tbilisi Sea Plaza.  Since 2018, the honey sector has seen huge gains under the auspices of the GBU, which is leading efforts to remove pervasive constraints to growth such as the widespread use of prohibited antibiotics and performing the role of non-governmental national representative of the honey sector. The GBU’s three years of extensive work resulted in increased honey quality, more effective governmental advocacy, better vocational education in beekeeping, including, Jara teaching, available information and trainings for beekeepers, promotion and improved image of Georgian honey at the Apimondia Congress and London Honey Awards, all that paving way for an increase of honey export.    ‘There are some major developments in improving honey testing capacity, increasing awareness of Georgian honey, and opening of new export markets. The comprehensive laboratory analysis, before carried abroad, is now available in Georgia, which resulted in decreasing transaction costs.’ – Giorgi Khanishvili, the First Deputy Minister of the Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA).    ‘We were able to achieve significant improvements during these three years. We are continuing cooperation with the government and other honey stakeholders to ensure production of safe and quality honey.’ – Aleko Papava, the Executive Director of the GBU.  Photo source: The MEPA
Jara Enters the Qatar Market
19/12/2021
Nena Jara honey, along with other types of Georgian honey, found its place on the Georgian honey corner opened at the SPAR supermarket branch in Tawar Mall, the largest shopping mall in Doha, Qatar. Georgian honey corner will be opened in every branch of the SPAR chain. The process is backed by the Embassy of Georgia to the State of Qatar. The ALCP facilitated the export of Jara honey. Local influential media AI Raya dedicated a comprehensive article to Georgian honey with a special highlight on Georgian beekeeping characteristics and traditional Jara.   The Qatar market seems promising. The Embassy’s previous facilitation for approval of a VET certificate, an essential requirement for honey export, has contributed to a 255% increase of Georgian honey export to Qatar in 2021 compared to 2020. The same figure saw a 350% boost in 2020.  Photo source: The Embassy of Georgia to the State of Qatar
Sharing of Agricultural Education Experience with Azerbaijanis Colleagues
12/11/2021
The Journalism Resource Centre (JRC), in partnership with the Society of Women for Rational Development in Azerbaijan (WARD), hosted a study visit of media and educational institution representatives of Azerbaijan. Agri-journalism students and lecturers at Caucasus International University shared agricultural journalism teaching practices. In Kakheti, they visited the farm of Beka Gonashvili, Head of the Georgian Shepherds Association, farmer, and entrepreneur.  They also visited Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking to see their Jara honey and wine production and the dairy Leanka in Dedeplitskaro.  The importance of education and information for farmers and producers and their cooperation with agricultural media was emphasized. Beka Gonashvili emphasized the importance of providing quality information to farmers and producers. He is both a blogger and a farmer, so he is regularly publishing useful agriculture-related posts. The female owner of Leanka dairy talked about how the enterprise is ensuring the quality and how media is playing a significant role in this. At Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking Company particpants saw wine and Jara honey production and their export and how the Georgian Beekeepers Union is advocating the interests of honey sector representatives and supporting the awareness raising of beekeepers, such as through the national information campaign - Do’s and Don’ts of Antibiotic Use. Participants also watched a report about Jara Honey by Al Jazeera and Jara the Movie. ‘We will all together will work well for expansion the teaching of agricultural Journalism in Azerbaijan’ – Natia Kuprashvili, the Head of the JRC. The Society Women for Rational Development (WARD) in partnership with the JRC is going to prepare a course of agricultural communication based on the study visit and share it with educational institutions in Azerbaijan. Please see the related links: a textbook of Constructive Agricultural Journalism and video lessons added to this textbook.
LATEST PUBLICATIONS
MONITORING, EVALUATION, AND LEARNING POLICY
A Gendered National Honey Sector Survey in Georgia
GENDER EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION STRATEGY (2020-2023)