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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
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.

05/02/2021
Jara Beekeeping a National Treasure

Producing honey in Jara hives has officially been granted Intangible Cultural Heritage status by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia. The Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) applied to the Agency back in 2020.

Jara is traditional wild beekeeping, a practice which almost died out but which has since 2014 begun a slow revival with the facilitation of the ALCP. The ancient tradition with strong roots in traditional agriculture, culture represents a unique way of life. The status recognizes Jara’s need to be preserved for future generations earning a place amongst other honourable Georgian traditions, including, Qvevri wine-making and Georgian song and dances. This status and will contribute to its further preservation and promotion.

It also brings hope and feeling of pride to those beekeepers who are continuing or are now taking Jara beekeeping up.

Jara has been on a fascinating journey since 2014. This journey includes The first commercial harvesting, registering the Jara honey mark, being promoted at the international exhibitionsfirst Bio certification, being taught at the VET college and reaching export markets in the US and Canada. And we can be sure, more things are on their way.  

21/01/2021
Power of Christmas Spirit Shown by Municipal Women’s Rooms

Christmas is a magical time awakening the holiday spirit in us. They say, Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting.

Before Christmas this year, the managers of the municipal Women’s Rooms in Kakheti, who like everyone else have adapted themselves to remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, established an online Christmas Charity Auction on Facebook to help families in need affected by the pandemic. The managers selected seven families in need for help. Their stories are heartbreaking; of a single mother, a victim of domestic violence, raising her children by herself, grandparents raising orphans, a child with disabilities and families with many children living in extreme poverty. Up to five hundred people joined in the auction donating or buying things in the auction with the money raised going for donation. The auction raised more than two thousand Gel over two weeks and besides money, the families received sweets, books, gifts; and special food for a girl with Celiac Disease.

The Christmas of the seven families was changed for the better. The Christmas Charity Auction finished on the 7th of January, though the online group on Facebook remains active, as the Women’s Rooms are planning to continue sharing the act of kindness with families in need and are open to anyone willing to contribute to any future auctions.

There are twenty-eight Women's Rooms in twenty-seven municipalities of four regions of Georgia. Find more about Women’s Rooms here.

30/12/2020
Woman Entrepreneur on Overcoming Challenges during the Pandemic

An article Challenges Emerge for Women Entrepreneurs as a Result of the Covid-19 Pandemic  has been published on Civil Society Portal in Georgia as part of an essay competition. The woman entrepreneur-Zeinab in the article is the Director of the dairy enterprise Tsintskaro+Ltd in Tetritskaro, Georgia. The Alliances Programme, an SDC and ADA project implemented by Mercy Corps Georgia, has been facilitating this dairy since 2016. Zeinab wrote this article by herself and won the Civil Society Portal essay competition. The article comes at the right time. We all need this kind of encouraging information during the pandemic period.

You might be interested in information on how businesses in Georgia are dealing with challenges caused by COVID-19 and can check our report COVID-19 Effects on the ALCP Clients Businesses.

14/12/2020
Jara Honey Bio Production Grabs Newly Appointed Minister’s Interest

The Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) hosted the new Minister of Agriculture of Ajara Autonomous Republic. One Bio certified Jara beekeeper invited the Minister to Namonastrevi village in Keda to watch the Jara harvest. He also visited the Agro-Keda factory where KTW produce the Nena honey brandto see the Bio honey production and packaging process following strict Bio standards. The JBA together with its members talked about their work, education materials they have disseminated among their members, results and planned activities.

‘Jara honey is an amazing product it’s tradition and now Bio certification. It has great export potential. Even though, the pandemic has significantly limited our budget, we will support the JBA to help ensure the sustainability of the Jara honey production and Bio certification.’ – Giorgi Surmanidze, Minister of Agriculture of Ajara.

In a country first, there are now twenty four Bio certified Jara beekeepers, including the Jara apiary in the Goderdzi Alpine Garden. The Agro-Keda Factorythe only company commercially harvesting Jara honey, received Bio certification in October 2020, thus the company is eligible to sell the Bio certified Jara honey crop with a Bio label soon available in the supermarket chains throughout Georgia.

The JBA is due to start selling the honey of its members under its own label from December this year. The Agroservice Center of the Ministry has already allocated a room in Keda municipality center for the JBA for the compliant packaging and labeling of its products.

More details on Jara honey to be found on www.jarahoney.com.

Photo source: The Ministry of Agriculture of Ajara Autonomous Republic

LATEST NEWS
The First International Agri Journalism Conference
14/04/2021
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.
Georgian Honey Export Expands
16/02/2021
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.
Jara Beekeeping a National Treasure
05/02/2021
Producing honey in Jara hives has officially been granted Intangible Cultural Heritage status by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia. The Jara Beekeepers Association (JBA) applied to the Agency back in 2020. Jara is traditional wild beekeeping, a practice which almost died out but which has since 2014 begun a slow revival with the facilitation of the ALCP. The ancient tradition with strong roots in traditional agriculture, culture represents a unique way of life. The status recognizes Jara’s need to be preserved for future generations earning a place amongst other honourable Georgian traditions, including, Qvevri wine-making and Georgian song and dances. This status and will contribute to its further preservation and promotion. It also brings hope and feeling of pride to those beekeepers who are continuing or are now taking Jara beekeeping up. Jara has been on a fascinating journey since 2014. This journey includes The first commercial harvesting, registering the Jara honey mark, being promoted at the international exhibitions, first Bio certification, being taught at the VET college and reaching export markets in the US and Canada. And we can be sure, more things are on their way.  
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