Between 4th-6th February 2011, International Alert’s economy and conflict project partners, the Caucasus Business and Development Network (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 is traditionally 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 widely known for its unique climatic conditions – today the sector is facing a multitude of challenges.
Participants identified 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 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 platforms for the sector were suggested as ways forward. Also, expert meetings and engaging the public and nurturing honey culture through festivals at local and regional levels 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.
International Alert’s CBDN partners have been promoting peacebuilding through regional economic cooperation and dialogue between all business communities across the South Caucasus. CBDN was founded in 2005 and its work is guided by its members’ shared vision of an economic connected and cooperating peaceful Caucasus (www.caucasusbusiness.net).
The meeting was generously supported by the Conflict Pool of the British Government, the Instrument for Stability of the EU and International Alert.