South Caucasian beekeepers’ visit to Kars, Turkey

From 19th to 22nd of July 2012, International Alert and Caucasus Business and Development Network (CBDN) organised a cross-learning trip of South Caucasian beekeepers to Kars, Turkey. The trip was part of CBDN’s ongoing work in this sector, which aims to promote and strengthen regional cooperation among beekeepers in the South Caucasus.

The idea of organising a cross-learning trip came up during the December 2011 Gyumri-Kars Business Forum, which brought together 25 Armenian and Turkish companies from various sectors, and especially from the beekeeping sector, with the aim of promoting regional economic cooperation as a contribution to peace.  Following the Forum, CBDN met with various beekeepers across the region to define their areas of interest for the cross-learning trip and identify their learning needs.

As a result, the agenda of the cross-learning trip consisted of training on the treatment of honey bee diseases, an information session on apitherapy – the use of honey bee products in alternative remedies – and non-traditional methods of maintaining bees, as well as site visits to apiaries in Azat and Dikme villages of Kars Province and shops for beekeeping equipment in Kars.

The “Caucasus Honey” brand – a collection of seven types of honey produced across the region – was presented during the first day by CBDN and got a lot of interest from the beekeepers as a practical example of how to foster regional cooperation.

The trip provided a good opportunity for the beekeepers to engage in professional dialogue, establish contacts with other beekeepers from across the region and learn more about beekeeping practices in Turkey. As some of the participants said:

‘We should work together to create and strengthen regional cooperation among beekeepers’.

‘Not only did the meeting provide a good opportunity to meet our counterparts from other regions, but it also showed that we have common problems in this sector, and common problems need common solutions. We need to work towards these solutions’.

The participants identified various areas for future cooperation, which include ways of increasing production, quality control of bee products, obtaining modern beekeeping equipment, organising future educational programmes and informational centres, and more, which CBDN will help them explore going forward.

The trip was generously supported by the UK Government’s Conflict Prevention Pool.

CBDN was founded in 2005. It promotes peacebuilding through regional economic cooperation and dialogue between all business communities across the South Caucasus. Its work is guided by a shared vision of an economically connected and cooperating peaceful Caucasus and by a set of commonly agreed principles. Find out more at www.caucasusbusiness.net

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