Improving beekeeping skills, increasing productivity, and introducing ecological beekeeping: this is how Caucapia e.V. wants to improve living conditions in a region of particular cultural value and natural beauty in southern Georgia: the Mashavera Valley.
Despite considerable economic development since 2004, large parts of the Georgian population, particularly in the rural areas, suffer from poverty and unemployment. The official unemployment rate is almost 15%, while unofficial estimates put it at 30 to 50%. The average per capita income is below $300 a month.
The vast majority of people in the Mashavera Valley therefore depend on their own agriculture. As a way to help people themselves, we want to found an agricultural cooperative and build an apiary center to help raise income by improving the quality of honey and creating sustainable prospects for the people of the Mashavera and Pinezaouri River valleys, about 65 km south of Tbilisi. This is a region with extraordinary cultural value. Remnants of the very first species of modern man in Europe were discovered here. Numerous archaeological sites – from the Bronze to the Middle Ages – point to early settlement there.
But this heritage is in danger. The region today is heavily burdened by highly toxic legacies of copper mining. The opencast pit Madneuli key for the local economy,has for decades been releasing heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and others.
However, the local population strongly depends on this contaminated soil and ground water for farming. Hence, local cancer rates exceed the average. These dire conditions have been documented by a German university, but nothing has changed. Remarkably, however, the honey from the region is not negatively affected by the pollution, as two independent expert surveys illustrate.
The reason is quite simple: the bees »filter« the heavy metals with their bodies before they enter the food chain. This surprising fact is the essential prerequisite for our project.
Even though our approach cannot remedy the problem of pollution itself, our private initiative targets the reduction of the local population on the mine poisoning.