Presentation of Caucasus Tea and Wine in Tskhinval/i

On February 23, 2011, CBDN organized the presentation of the Caucasus Tea and the Caucasian Bouquet in Tskhinval/i. The meeting was attended by the local civil society and business community.

Participants had a great chance to enjoy a cup of tea, which offers flavours from across the region, and a glass of Caucasian wine, which symbolizes the regional cooperation. During the presentation, participants got a better understanding of CBDN’s scheme of work and its regional initiatives. People discussed the possibilities of producing Caucasus Tea with the added Ossetian flavour of herbal tea as well as the production of wine. Businesswomen who are engaged in wine-making suggested bringing wine to the CBDN centre to pour into the bottles. Similar suggestion was made in regard with the packaging of the herbal tea.

It was a good opportunity for the civil society and local businesses to learn about the CBDN and discuss the ways for future cooperation.

Racha Cheesemakers to Learn How to Make Caucasus Cheese

Between February 7-10, 2011, CBDN Gyumri office hosted a cross-learning visit for cheesemakers from Racha. The trip was organised as part of the “Rural Development in the Racha-Lechkhumi Region, Georgia” project of the Swiss Development Cooperation and the CARE International.

During the programme, the cheesemakers visited local production facilities and learned the secrets of Caucasus Cheese. The trip was an excellent opportunity for the local and visiting cheesemakers to share and exchange experience as well as discuss ways to enhance market opportunities and find cost-effective approaches to shared needs.

As a token of their gratitude the visiting cheesemakers invited CBDN and local producers to continue cross-learning in Racha.

South Caucasus Beekeeping Meeting

Between 4-6 February 2011 CBDN organised a regional beekeepers’ meeting to discuss challenges and possibilities for regional cooperation in the beekeeping sector.

The event that brought together Georgian, Armenian, Turkish, South Ossetian, Abkhaz and Nagorno-Karabakhi beekeepers and experts demonstrated that political complexities and physical obstacles can be overcome through joint endeavour and common interests. The border town of Gyumri has traditionally been a gateway between Anatolia and the Caucasus and was therefore particularly suited to host the event.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the current status of the sector, identify main challenges and develop practical ways to promote cooperation.

While beekeeping is considered to be one of the oldest crafts in the South Caucasus and widely known for its unique climatic conditions – today the sector is facing a multitude of challenges.

Lack of modern technology, inadequate provisions for training and education, absence of effective platforms to promote sectoral development and lack of cooperation in the region were identified as key challenges. Consequently, issues of quality control, access to latest know-how and information are hindering further development and access to new markets. The challenges, it was discussed, are further exacerbated by inadequate material and financial support by authorities and donors.

While the meeting was also a reminder of differences within the region including more registered beekeepers in Turkey than the rest of the region together – the participants turned many of the disparities into opportunities for cross-learning and cooperation.

Further analysis, information exchange, study-trips and creating common platform for the sector were suggested as ways forward. Also, expert meetings and engaging the publics and nurturing honey-culture through festivals on local and regional level were discussed as important aspects of promoting sectoral development and cooperation. The participants also discussed the possibilities of creating a common Caucasus Honey brand with the view of promoting cooperation through a joint endeavour.

CBDN is currently developing a work-plan to take the process further – and invite other interested parties to participate in and support regional initiatives.

The meeting was generously supported by Conflict Pool of British Government, Instrument for Stability of EU and International Alert.

South Caucasus Tea Makers Discuss Regional Cooperation in Gyumri

Between 4-6 February 2011, CBDN organized a regional tea-makers meeting in Gyumri, Armenia. The meeting brought together Georgian, Abkhaz, South Ossetian, Armenians from Nagorny Karabakh, and Armenian producers and experts to discuss next steps of CBDN’s tea sector work.

As part of the meeting CBDN organised a workshop on the use of the so-called “Universal Table” that is used for production and packaging of Caucasus Tea. The training and equipment, which is made by CBDN, will allow the production and popularisation of Caucasus Tea locally across the region.

The meeting offered an opportunity to discuss and plan different ways of promoting Caucasus Tea as well as exchange experiences. Among issues discussed was the production of local herbal variations of the Tea and planning for presentations across the region.

The meeting was organised in parallel to Caucasus Beekeeping meeting and offered a great opportunity to share information and plans across the sectors.

This meeting was supported by the IFS of EU and CP of British Government.