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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.

OTHER NEWS
02/04/2019
Masterclass for New Agri Journalism Students

Up to thirty students of the agri journalism course at the journalism department attended a lecture given by the ALCP programme Team Leader Helen Bradbury in the state university. Agriculture and tourism; environmental protection, preservation and biodiversity; the honey, sheep and dairy sectors; Georgia’s rich cultural heritage and its main treasure - people/farmers with their strong traditions were the main themes of the lecture.

All the students highlighted that the lecture was inspirational, they did not know many things, found different perspectives of agriculture and environment and they will report about the themes in the future.

Agriculture is about people and you should do your work with your heart if you want people to be opened to you. Try to understand the process and choose your own path. Be different and always find something new that no one else can see.’ - Helen Bradbury, Team Leader of the ALCP programme.

Since spring fifty-three students have been learning agri journalism as a selective module for two hours/week, during the whole semester at the state university. 

We see more and more reports about agriculture but it is not enough. Reporting about rural life, people and agriculture is very important and it is our and your responsibility to think about it and be more enthusiastic as you are future journalists or media managers.’ - Natia Kuprashvili, Head of the Journalism Resource Center.

Fourteen universities in Georgia, four in Armenia and one in Azerbaijan established or are establishing agri journalism module in their courses. 369 students have already studied the course.

20/03/2019
Spread of Honey Promotion Video

The ALCP facilitated the Georgian Beekeepers Union (GBU) in development of the honey promotion video, depicting the story of Georgia as a land of the oldest honey discovered and unique biodiversity to support awareness raising and promote export potential of Georgian honey and Jara. The video was shared with different stakeholders and social networks.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared it with their internal networks of embassies in Georgia and foreign countries and it was uploaded in a Georgian production section. The video is on Facebook of the  Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. The Georgian National Tourism Agency; The Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara; the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture; and The Agency of Protected Areas are sharing it with their network.

It has reached the highest views on the popular Facebook platforms Marketer.ge and Georgian WineTo date the video has 185,000 views and 6,000 shares. The majority of the viewers are emphasizing on interesting story mentioned in the video they did not know before and are sharing it for further promotion.

13/03/2019
'Georgian Milk Mark' now in Supermarkets

The products with 'Georgian Milk Mark' are now available in the supermarkets of Georgia.

The 'Georgian Milk Mark' is officially registered and serves to distinguish dairy products made from natural milk. 

01/03/2019
Jara is now available on Amazon

The documentary Jara is now available for sale on amazon

Jara is a fairy tale journey through one year in the mountains of Ajara. A story of the shifting boundary between human habitat and wild nature, portrays everyday lives in the changing seasons. The wooden jara in the forest and the bees living within it are the fixed point in the story.

The film was named as the best feature film at the Wolves Independent International Film Festival2018 in Lithuania, and won the Golden Green Award 2018 at the Deauville Green Awards International Film Festival in France for the best production in the category of Sustainable Agriculture; the cameramen of the movie received an award from International Festival of TV and Movie Cameramen the Golden Eye 2018 for Best TV Camera Work.

The main backer of Jara is the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through the Mercy Corps Georgia implemented Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme.

                                                   

21/02/2019
First Time: Packaged Jara Honey

Jara honey, collected from the local beekeepers in Ajara, has been officially branded and packaged for the first time. It is now ready to enter the international markets. 

9/02/2019
Breakthrough Legislation for Honey Sector

On 8th of November, 2018, the Government of Georgia adopted regulation #525, which forbids registration of the vet drugs containing prohibited antibiotics, like, chloramphenicol, metronidazole, dimetridazole, ronidazole, nitrofuran (including furazolidonewhich are widely used in beekeeping. The regulation entered into force on 1st of January, 2019 and was nationally covered by the media outlets. The regulation was proposed by the Veterinary Department of the NFA, after this constraint was raised at the first Honey Sector Advisory Committee on 22nd of June, 2018, which brought together honey stakeholders to discuss tackling the high levels of antibiotic residues in honey which are limiting the development of the honey sector. 

                                         

LATEST NEWS
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
Georgian Honey Export Expands
07/07/2021
Georgian Honey under Nena brand has successfully entered the Hong Kong market with a repeat order received soon after the first one. Hong Kong is the new market for Nena honey following USA, Canada, Japan and UAE.
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