Tag Archives: Austrian Development Agency

The closing ceremony of the “First Inclusive Bakery and Coffee Shop in Gyumri” project, which was co-funded by the European Union, Caritas Austria, and the Austrian Development Agency, was held on 19 July in Gyumri. EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Świtalski, Governor of Shirak marz Tigran Petrosyan, Gyumri Mayor Samvel Balasanyan, Caritas Austria Programme Manager Robert Moosbrugger and President of “Armenian Caritas” Archbishop Raphael Minassian were present at the event and delivered speeches. Attendees had the opportunity to view a film about the project, as well as receive the report with stories, statistics, and pictures.

Ambassador Świtalski welcomed all the participants: “Thanks to this project a space has been opened to complement the symbols of Gyumri. I am particularly happy today and would like to thank Caritas Austria and the Austrian Development Agency, as well as Armenian Caritas and the Emili Aregak Centre. This is one of the best projects that has been implemented in Gyumri, making the city a better place for people with disabilities. I hope the centre will continue its activities by keeping its good reputation”.

Archbishop Minassian thanked the project implementers: “This ceremony is unique as it is an exceptional opportunity to say that we succeeded. I would like to thank all who were involved in this wonderful project. Also I would like to thank the parents who had the courage to direct their children to the centre and trust Caritas. I would like to thank not only the participants, the donors, but also all our children, who were able to express their abilities with enthusiasm, joy, and smiles”.

“First Inclusive Bakery and Coffee Shop in Gyumri” was co-financed by the European Union, the Austrian Development Cooperation, and Caritas Austria, and implemented by the Emili Aregak Centre of Armenian Caritas. The project had five major components: herbal gardening; training and cooperation; therapeutic handicraft work; public awareness raising and a bakery and coffee shop. The project’s overall objective was to create opportunities to involve young people with disabilities in the labour market. Target groups included youth and adults with disabilities, their parents and the Emili Aregak Day Care Centre for Children with Multiple Disabilities in Gyumri. The total project budget was €300,000, of which the European Union contribution was €269,187.

On 11 September, the Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI) project announced Organic September 2017. OASI, funded by the European Union and co-founded and implemented by the Austrian Development Agency in collaboration with the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, is continuing to promote ​​organic agriculture in Armenia.
The “Organic September” initiative targets farmers, food processors, other agricultural stakeholders and consumers, and encourages them to grow and buy healthy and organic Armenian foods. Throughout the month OASI will organise a series of awareness-raising activities, such as TV, social network, and outdoor advertisements, as well as quizzes on the Dasaran.am webpage. There will be public meetings with experts in organic agriculture, “Organic Talks” with Armenian celebrities, culinary master classes, and other meetings which will bring together producers and sales companies. Organic Armenian products will be presented to consumers at various events, and certified products will be available to buy from the “Organic Corner” in the Carrefour supermarket and Green Day Organic Store in Yerevan.
OASI is a three-year project launched in September 2015. It is aimed at promoting organic agriculture in Armenia and has a total budget of €3.3 million. The project encourages Armenian farmers to produce organic products and receive certification, but also provides direct marketing support and helps to create networks with Armenian, European and other international companies to promote organic produce.

ARS_9906The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, encouraged the general public to stay tuned for Organic September events: ‘The EU strongly supports agriculture in Armenia. We believe it has a good and bright future and the OASI project is promoting innovative ways to develop it. I want to thank the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture for its close cooperation and engagement, and our Austrian friends. Austria is an EU leader in organic agriculture. OASI is not the largest project financially speaking but it is very important in terms of modernising agriculture in Armenia. Organic September is a beautiful initiative. It sounds very attractive and I hope very much this will become a tradition’.

ARS_9867Armenian Minister of Agriculture Ignati Arakelyan welcomed OASI’s initiative: ‘There are many challenges to solve in Armenian agriculture; one of these challenges is organic agriculture. That said, OASI has already provided us with good examples and has added to our conviction that organic agriculture has great potential in our country. Taking into account the high demand for organic produce in international markets, as well as increases in the number of consumers preferring healthy lifestyles, organic farming can contribute not only to increases in farmers’ income, but also positively affect the health of our population. Organic agriculture has all the possibilities to become a new strategic direction for Armenian agriculture’.

ARS_9883Nora Alanakyan, the Deputy Head of Office of the Austrian Development Agency, highlighted the importance of the awareness campaign: ‘Since 2011, the Austrian Development Agency has recognised Armenia as a priority country for cooperation. We have funded a number of projects, most of which have been agricultural. The ultimate goal is to reduce poverty and increase the incomes of residents living in agricultural communities. OASI is our biggest joint project with the EU, and we are proud of it. The huge expertise accumulated in Austria, a leaders in the organic sector, can develop organic agriculture in Armenia, which still has a long way to go. This comprehensive initiative includes necessary legislative and regulatory change, direct support to farmers and producers through a grant scheme, and extended marketing support to properly represent Armenian organic produce in domestic and international markets’.

On 14 July, a second buckwheat processing factory was opened in the border community of Bavra in Shirak marz. The ‘Nor Hatik’ factory is part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) ‘Producer Group and Value Chain Development’ project.

DSC_3607ENPARD is funded by the European Union (€2.4 million) and Austrian Development Agency (€1 million). The three-year project was launched in Armenia in January 2015 with the aim to support sustainable agriculture in the country. The project’s governmental partner is the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are implementing ‘ENPARD Armenia Technical Assistance: Producer Group and Value Chain Development’ project working with 53 primary producer and processing cooperatives. UNIDO and UNDP work together to strengthen and establish producer groups and engage them effectively in value chain addition.
In 2016, primary producer cooperatives were provided with buckwheat seeds and fertilisers, and the processing cooperatives were provided with buckwheat processing factories. As a result, 520 hectares of buckwheat were planted, with an average of 1.2 tonnes of buckwheat harvested per hectare. Now farmers can process their harvests at the processing cooperatives for sale and thereby increase incomes. Local and international experts have provided farmers with training on how to sow buckwheat, fertilisation, harvesting, storage processing, buckwheat-related beekeeping, and honey production.
551 farmers from 67 communities have been involved in 33 cooperatives across Shirak, Lori, Aragatsotn, Kotayk and Gegharkunik marzes to provide buckwheat to factories in Bavra (Shirak marz) and Tsovagyugh (Gegharkunik marz). The construction of Nor Hatik has been financed by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. It brings together 28 cooperatives from Shirak, Lori and Aragatsotn marzes. Soon, buckwheat from Nor Hatik will enter the Armenian market.

DSC_3572Representatives from partner organisations were present at Nor Hatik’s opening event and participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Armen Harutyunyan congratulated all the partners: ‘It is an important day not only for the cooperatives that have gathered due to this factory, but for Armenian agriculture as a whole. I remember two years ago we started discussions on ENPARD, on which directions we would focus. We prioritised two directions: promotion of cooperatives and the development of alternative crops that could bring higher profitability. Now we have solid results which offer motivation for the next steps’.

DSC_3657Head of Nor Hatik cooperative and buckwheat-processing factory Koryun Smbulyan thanked all the partners: ‘I am thankful that so many people have gathered to congratulate us. We have 15 years of buckwheat processing experience, but we achieved this only as we have so many partners. We have had a good harvest, have great facilities, which means we can enter the market with a quality product’.

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’.