Tag Archives: Aragatsotn marz

On 1 September, the EU-funded “Biomass Heating Solutions for Rural Development – BioRuralHeating” project came to an end with a discussion of the project outcomes and perspectives at the Barva Innovation Centre in Talin, Aragatsotn marz. The “Green Energy Association” implemented the project from September 2015 until September 2017. The Barva Innovation Centre was the main industrial partner of the project.

ARS_2242The overall objective of BioRuralHeating was to promote biomass as a source of thermal energy in rural communities, create biomass-processing markets, create jobs, and provide new income sources. The specific objectives were: to build strategic partnerships between farmers, research and development centres, the public and private sectors; to strengthen capacity among these stakeholders; to raise the level of local public awareness and promote biomass for domestic heating and to develop a set of decision-making tools for social enterprises to produce and use biomass in heating applications in rural areas. Beneficiary and target groups of the project included state and local self-governing bodies, farmers, and other individuals and organisations engaged in biosynthesis for energy generation.
The Barva Innovation Centre was established in 2005, and its operations involve: high-quality technological manufacturing; device building; information technologies. The centre has the most up-to-date equipment for biomass processing. In the framework of the project 6 communities have been provided with devices producing energy with the help of biomass.

ARS_2358Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of the Cooperation section of the EU Delegation, attended the project closing event. He toured the facility and spoke of his satisfaction with the project’s achievements: ‘I came here 3 years ago, and it was a completely different experience – there was nothing like this! It is very good to come back and see the project’s results. What is more important, however, is the pilot nature of the project – we have many lessons to learn. If a pilot project is successful, this needs to be shared, particularly with Government agencies to expand the project. But it’s not just as simple as that – we need to make sure that the financial business model is working as well. A third, impartial set of eyes is necessary to confirm this. With biomass, there is a marketing issue because politicians prefer solar and wind energy, as they are easier to sell. Therefore, for biomass, more active work must be done with investors and government representatives’.

ARS_2389Aram Vardanyan, the CEO of Barva Innovation Centre, spoke of his hopes for the future: ‘In our opinion, the project has been quite successful. I recently had the opportunity to present our project at the 25th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden. Our project received good feedback. Giuliano Grassi, the Secretary General of European Biomass Industry Association, highly appreciated our achievements and is going to send a representative to Armenia at the end of this month to discuss how we can integrate into other EU programmes. Through the project we have also published 2 books on the use of biomass in Armenia. The conclusion is that Armenia has so much renewable biomass waste, enough to produce three times the current energy demand of the entire country – this is highly promising. This waste can be obtained from sanitary cleaning of forests, agricultural waste, and the gathering and harvesting of wild plants’.

On 5 September, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the “BRIDGE for CSOs” programme welcomed the “One Step Ahead” which is an all-girls team from Karbi community in Aragatsotn marz. The team won the People’s Choice Award at the Global Technovation Challenge 2017, which took place from 7-11 August in San Francisco, USA. Since 2010, more than 10,000 girls from 78 countries have participated in the Global Technovation Challenge. Every year the competition invites girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it. Girls work in teams to build both a mobile app and a business plan to launch that app, supported by mentors and guided by the programme’s methodology.

ARS_4573“One Step Ahead” created a bilingual sign-language app for Android. They won the Armenian heat before being invited to San Francisco. The Armenian stage of the competition was organised by Technovation regional ambassador “Women and Information Society’’ NGO. AGBU’s EU-funded three-year “BRIDGE for CSOs” programme empowers local initiatives by meaningfully engaging diaspora professionals and providing beneficiaries with access to AGBU’s global network. Yervant Zorian, AGBU General Board Member and President of Synopsys Armenia and the Chief Architect of Synopsys Corporation, has been announced as the first Goodwill Ambassador of the Technovation Initiative.

ARS_4491Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of the Cooperation section of the EU Delegation, attended the event with “One Step Ahead” and congratulated the team: ‘It is a pleasure to be here. I am very impressed by your victory. You have achieved something great which shows this sphere’s potential. Also, this achievement confirms the willingness of the EU to invest in youth, girls and the future. It confirms that Armenia can be prosperous, peaceful and growing nation alongside the EU’.

ARS_4517Zorian was honoured to become the first Goodwill Ambassador of the Technovation Initiative: “I am proud of the team’s success. These achievements were not surprising to me, as I am aware of the potential that exists in Armenia. It is very important to keep momentum and implement what you have already done. It is great that this programme encourages girls to be active in the sphere of technology. I will be very happy if you can continue making contributions for years to come. I will do my best to support you as Goodwill Ambassador”.

On 30 June, the Agrolog Organic Educational Production Centre was officially opened in Asharak, Aragatsotn marz. The centre is one of a kind in Armenia and has various organic facilities. It will serve as a hub for farmers from adjacent rural communities and help them to produce natural organic Armenian food.
The Organic Centre is an initiative of Agrolog, which is a beneficiary of an Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI) grant. Agrolog aims to promote organic agriculture in Armenia and to share experience in this area. Agrolog’s activities cover the entire value chain, from the soil to the end consumer.

ARS_3508OASI is funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by the Austrian Development Agency. OASI aims to promote competitive organic agricultural practices in Armenia, thereby developing sustainable rural communities. The initial success of organic products in domestic and international markets will be enhanced by improving the policy and regulatory framework, and by providing comprehensive marketing support. The budget of OASI is €3.3 million and will be implemented until 2018.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, the Head of Office for Technical Cooperation of the Austrian Embassy to Armenia, Gerhard Schaumberger, and the Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Armen Harutyunyan, attended the opening ceremony.  After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the guests toured the organic educational production centre, followed by a food fair and exhibition involving over 50 organic producers.

ARS_3298Ambassador Świtalski wished the centre success: ‘The EU believes in the development of Armenian agriculture. We consider agriculture as one of the engines of growth in Armenia. More than 30% of the Armenian population is employed in agriculture – most communities are rural communities. Therefore, the EU is convinced of the need to develop agriculture in the country. We have contributed more than €25 million to Armenian agriculture. Thanks to our ENPARD project, this year Armenians have been able to enjoy buckwheat and broccoli. We are convinced that organic agriculture has a bright future in Armenia, and we are grateful to our Austrian partners for taking the lead in implementing this project. Austria is the leader in organic agriculture in the EU, with more than 20% of overall production organic. Austria is bringing the best expertise’.

ARS_3354Schaumberger was excited see the fruits of Agrolog’s labours: ‘It is a happy moment to be able to reach out to small farmers in the Armenian marzes. Our thanks go to the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture and the Armenian organic movement, which are collaborating to achieve new and higher-value organic production in the country. Many thanks must go to the EU for putting their trust in this innovative sector’.

ARS_3337Deputy Minister Harutyunyan thanked partners for financing OASI, ENPARD and other projects: ‘Organic agriculture contributes not only to the development of general agriculture, but also solves environmental and health issues. In addition, it provides higher profitability for farmers. Organic agriculture has the preconditions to develop in Armenia and I am sure that every year we will achieve new results’.