Samtskhe-Javakheti has an extensive history of agriculture. It has a huge potential to use agricultural tourism for diversification of the list of products and services. The region was also called the "bread granary". Once, the entire country was supplied with wheat produced here. Local wheat species – Akhaktsikhe Tsiteli Doli and Javakheti Dika have been driven to the brink of extinction, however, the local population is interested in local wheat species, which is predetermined by its taste qualities and sustainability to the climate conditions. Bread dishes made of wheat in the region are also interesting: Lavash, Shoti (Meskhetian bread), Kakala, Somini baked in the Meskhetian bakery (Purne). Other dishes are also made from dough, for example: Tatarberagi, Bishi, Patirbishi, Lukhumi, Qatmari, Sironi, Erishta, Makarlama etc.
The festival is held on the territory of Akhaltsikhe, in Rabati, which overlooks the city. The territory is interesting by monuments of historic significance, including a fortress, old bath, church, history museum, mosque and ruins of the madrasa of the Muslim school. The territory of Rabati is surrounded by a stone defensive wall.
The Festival aims to revive and promote indigenous varieties of wheat by involving as many farmers as possible in this activity and fostering collaborative short agri-food chains.
The Festivals held in 2010 and 2011 helped to popularize the industrial significance of Akhaltsikhe (Meskhetian) Tsiteli Doli (Red Doli) bread and to create a supply chain. Today, Akhaltsikhe Tsiteli Doli (Red Doli) wheat is not endangered anymore as farmers cultivate it and the "Tsiteli Doli Bread" gained consumers’ interest on the local market. Nonetheless, Georgia has much more to preserve – 5 ancient wheat species, endemic to Georgia:
- Chelta Zanduri - Triticum timopheevii Zhuk.
- Macha - Triticum macha Men.
- Dika -Triticum carthlicum Nevski.
- Hexaploid Zanduri - Triticum zhukovskyi Men.
- Kolkhuri Asli - Triticum palaeocolchicum Men.
The Festival will present the cultural and ethnological heritage of the region to the general public. Tasting local bread and traditional cuisine, introducing with the attractions of the region and its agro-tourism potential will be an interesting experience both for locals and foreign guests.
The program of the festival envisages presentation of various events in five spaces of the territory: creative, exhibition, folk crafts, activities and traditional cuisine.
A separate space is dedicated to the Georgian wheat. Visitors show interest in endemic and indigenous wheat species, including several varieties of Akhaltsikhe Tsiteli Doli and Korbouli Doli, Javakheti and Kartli Dika, Chelta and Gvatsa Zanduri, Makha, Kolkhuri Asli ears and have an opportunity to receive information about advantages and peculiarities of cultivation and care of these species and varieties of wheat. Due to the festival thematics, the main activity of the event is baking bread in traditional bakeries (tone) and tasting various types of bread and local products baked onsite. In addition to bread baked onsite, the farmers presented Meskhetian Qada and bread – Shoti, Kakala, Somini etc. baked in the traditional Meskhetian bakery (Purne).
Exhibition and sales of ethnographic items, performances of folkloric ensembles and actors of Akhaltsikhe Theater are held at the festival. Costumes created from natural fabric are shown and yoga and modern dance masterclass(es) are given for people interested in healthy lifestyles. For the purpose of popularization of the agro-tourist potential of the region, a photo exhibition and a photo competition - Yourshot "Samtskhe-Javakheti – We have it in numerous colors" – is organized.
Experiential and interactive activities
The event is held with participation of farmers and the local community – the guests taste dishes, participate in dance and yoga masterclasses, in the pottery making process etc.
An alternative approach is accumulation of diverse offers and performances intended for various age groups on one location. A brand logo of the festival and a webpage is created where the guests are registered for various offered activities.
Innovation of the festival was integration of a new event, such as demonstration of costumes made of natural fabric by models, musical evening with DJ performance, yoga class, modern dance learning class etc. into the existing (traditional) practice.
Main features and services that attract public
Modern and traditional activities are well merged at the festival. For example, traditional baking of bread and wheat exhibition is accompanied by demonstration of natural costumes presenting accessories of ears of wheat. Location of the festival is already an attraction.
And finally, the festival has an educational and scientific importance. Its development raises awareness about the forgotten Georgian species among the local population and contributes to cooperation between restaurant owners and farmers. It also contributes to ecological stability, namely, conservation and protection of endangered species.
Key partners and supporters
The main sponsor is "Elkana" which periodically plans and holds the Bread Festival funded by various donors within the framework of its program.
This year, the region’s DMO which was established with the assistance of the GNTA and USAID/Zrda Activity in Georgia by all six municipalities of the region two years ago and is actively engaged in promotion and protection of the region’s attractions and living culture, joined the initiative of "Elkana".
Other partners include the administration of Akhaltsikhe Castle, Association of Museums, NGOs, suppliers of sound equipment for mini-attractions, social media influencers etc.
Participants, local community and customer segment
The event participants are mostly producers of products and handmade items; local organizations – Youth Center, Culture Department of municipalities, Puppet Theater, House of Culture, folk ensembles, local artists, solo musicians, animators etc.
The event has two hosts who announce information about the planned activities to visitors.
Communication and dissemination channels
Information about the festival is disseminated via Internet. Participants obtain information by recommendation of their friends and colleagues. Local mass media, central TV are interesting in covering the festival. Information is also disseminated via Facebook page of "Elkana" and the website: www.breadfestival.ge
Separate events of the festival are covered by Samtskhe-Javakheti news portal "The Southern Gate" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4icauGuXL4),
Akhaltsikhe TV Company "The Ninth Channel"
Samtskhe-Javakheti Regional Broadcaster TOK TV
Broadcasting Company "Rustavi2", "Business Media Georgia"
"Formula", "EuroNews Georgia"
Specific elements and features
Managerial and organizational specifics
Business model Canvas of the Festival is available in the attached document.
The guests arrive mostly by their own vehicles. The partners organize rental of several vehicles from Tbilisi. Location of the festival is known and does not require to be informed additionally. Practical information is published on the festival website.
The festival continues all day long. The visitors who stay in the region for a long time within the framework of the festival can stay in comfortable family hotels.
Liaison with other activities and events of the Black Sea Basin region
The visitors visit the Museum of History, the presented expositions about Rabati. Special offers are prepared for visitors by "Elkana" and the DMO, including a visit to "Elkana” conservation farm "Arch of Cereals".
Wheat and bread baking are important topics for tours of all countries. Baking-related rituals reflect the culture and everyday life of the country well. Considering that Samtskhe-Javakheti borders with Armenia and Turkey, trans-border cultural route dedicated to wheat and bread has a development potential. It is possible to develop tourist routes between these regions in the future.
Image Sources: Biological Farming Association "Elkana"
Samtskhe-Javakheti region, Akhaltsikhe Municipality: Territory of Akhaltsikhe Fortress and village Tsnisi.
Historic structures of various periods as well as modern beautiful parks, squares and Samtskhe-Javakheti historic museum (where thousands of exhibits from the prehistoric period to the 20th century will make you travel in time) are located on the territory of Akhaltsikhe Fortress. You will see a madrasa, synagogue, the 9th century Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, citadel, Ahmed Pasha Mosque built in the 18th century (in 1752), dungeons and amphitheater on the territory of the fortress. The fortress complex was fully renovated in 2011-2012. Experimental farm of Biological Farming Association "Elkana" currently known as the "Arch of Cereals" functions in village Tsnisi. Today, local specified of wheat, legumes, fruit trees and berries are cultivated in the farm.
The festival is held periodically, mainly in October
Organizer and contact information
Biological Farming Association "Elkana",
phone: (+995) 32 25 36 487,