Tag Archives: development

The launch event of the new “Innovation for development” project took place on 2 February 2016. The project is funded by the European Union and is being implemented by the UNDP office in Armenia. The project was launched by introducing the first ever “Public Sector Innovation Week” in Armenia, which included a conference in TEDx format, “Kolba cafe” meetings, and workshops for high-level public servants.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, talked about the importance of such initiatives: ‘I am very happy that the EU is associated with this kind of innovative development. The future is about innovation and know-how. The best future for Armenia will come through innovation. Armenia has quite limited natural resources, has a difficult geopolitical situation, so let’s use the talent of people, and their brains. The EU promotes and supports innovation in Armenia through various projects, covering sectors such as economic development, research, education, and e-governance. To ensure that innovation participates in transforming the Armenian administration, it is important to foster bottom-up approaches and encourage new ideas in policy making. Therefore, this project has been devised to encourage the practical engagement of citizens and public sector for effective and efficient governance’.
Bradley Busetto, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, laid out the project’s aspirations: ‘Innovation for development will unleash innovators across society. From classrooms to hospitals, and up to municipal and government offices, this project will provide a platform for anyone who thinks they have a solution to help Armenia reach its development potential’.
The philosophy of the project is citizen centered, as it gives citizens a key role in policy development and implementation. The cooperation of two major organisations will allow them to develop new mechanisms for citizen participation and introduce open government innovations in Armenia. The project will have three strategic directions: idea incubation from citizens, public awareness activities, and public sector engagement.
In Armenia and the rest of the world there is a need to increase citizen engagement in decision-making processes. A series of open competitions will be held to delegate the problem solving process of social issues to citizens in Armenia, thereby encouraging participatory approach and assessment. Each citizen will have the opportunity to suggest solutions, and the best ones will be given an incubation period and initial financial support.
Competitions for ideas will also take place within government to encourage and develop new, more effective procedures, open government solutions, and communication tools. As a result of the project, the concept for an Open Governance Centre will be created to promote and develop participatory approaches to public services.

The rural life and traditions festival took place on 26 September 2015 in Yerevan, supported by the EU. More than 70 farmer groups, agricultural entrepreneurs and women’s groups from all the Armenian marzes took part in the festival, which encompassed singing, dancing and theatrical performances, a wide variety of arts and handicrafts made by local artisans and craftsmen, and farmers’ produce.
ARS_9070John Barker, the International Aid/Cooperation Officer in the EU Delegation to Armenia, spoke about the importance of the event: ‘The EU is delighted to support now already the second festival of rural life and traditions,. Why is this festival so important? Farmers in Armenia understand how difficult it is to find markets for their products – nobody creates markets for them and they have to find them by themselves. Therefore, we brought farmers from all over the country to help them to find markets for their products. I ask you to walk around, buy their products and encourage them. Last year during this event I promised that the EU would start an agricultural programme; now, as I promised, we started the ENPARD programme’.
Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Garnik Petrosyan welcomed guests and congratulated participants: ‘I want to congratulate everybody on this event. This is a very good occasion to present Armenian villages, traditions and farmers here in Yerevan’.
Different prizes were given to participants for the best table, best woman farmer, best performance, etc.

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The EU Delegation to Armenia and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture have issued a joint statement on current activities being undertaken in the “Producer group and value chains development” programme. This is being implemented within the framework of the “European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD)”. The EU is supporting the establishment of agricultural cooperatives through ENPARD, as well as strenghtening existing cooperatives, building business capacity, increasing production volumes, developing products, upgrading technologies, marketing, and adding value post-harvest, as well as introducing best agricultural practices (drip irrigation, etc.) and disaster risk reduction (anti-hail nets, anti-frost) systems. The project will be implemented in six Armenian marzes: Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik, Aragatsotn, Kotayk and Vayots Dzor.
ARS_4767John Barker, an International Aid/Cooperation Officerin the EU Delegation to Armenia, went into the details of the programme: ‘This programme supports EaP countries and we have an opportunity to help those countries (Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Azerbaijan) in agriculture. The programme has started in Georgia and Armenia, Moldova has stated its willingness to get started in ENPARD, as well as and Ukraine. The purpose of reform in Armenia is to improve the living conditions and economic conditions of farmers and rural communities, as well as to help the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture to have better capacities to implement reform. The EU is providing tehcnical support to the Ministry to increase its capacity, with the help of the UN’s Food and Agricultre Organisation. We want to help Armenia to grow more and better products and to help to find more valuable markets for them’.
ARS_4803Armen Harutyunyan, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, talked on behalf of the Ministry and thanked the EU and implementing organisations for the programme: ‘The establishment of agricultural cooperatives, as well as the strengthening of existing cooperatives, is a priority for the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture and we are happy that we have such an opportunity through the programme. We hope to be able to prove the results of this programme by trying the exceptional produce grown by the farmers involved’.
Priority will be given to groups engaged in the production and processing of fruits, berries, vegetables, grain, legumes, milk and dairy products, as well as producer and processing groups with innovative ideas (new technologies, new product). Women and young people are encouraged to participate. Groups should be comprised of at least 5 farmers or 5 founding members from different families who live and carry out their activities in rural communities. Groups must be either a registered or non-registered (i.e. non-formal/newly formed) cooperatives, and demonstrate business orientation.
Application forms are available from the Ministry of Agriculture, the governor’s office, agricultural support centres, and mayors’ offices, or can be downloaded here: www.un.am/hy/procurements. The current deadline for the applications is 15 July 2015.
ENPARD is financed by the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency to ensure sustainable agricultural development. The “Producer group and value chains development” programme is being implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme. The project was launched in January 2015 and its duration is 36 months. This programme will provide €20 million of budget support for the Government of Armenia to enhance agricultural and rural development. A further €5 million will be provided to support the Ministry of Agriculture and to promote the development of farmers’ groups and value-adding chains throughout Armenia. The Austrian Development Cooperation is providing an additional €1 million to assist farmers’ groups and value-adding chains.

The public discussion on 2015-2025 Agricultural and Rural Area Development Strategy was organised by the OXFAM at Armenian Ministry of Agriculture on 30 March, 2015. The discussion was held within the framework of the EU-funded project called “Improving Regional Food Security in South Caucasus through National Strategies and Smallholder Production”.
A national working group was formed within the framework of the programme, which will create the 2015-2025 Agricultural and Rural Area Development Strategy, focussing on food security. There are experts from the field of agriculture, beneficiaries and international NGOs in the national working group. Parallel to this national group OXFAM also created other working groups in 10 different marzes of Armenia.
ARS_5506John Barker, the International Aid/Cooperation Officer of the EU Delegation to Armenia, stated that the EU will continue its contribution in the field of agriculture in Armenia: “It’s wonderful that we have this regional programme, which not only addresses food security in its most general sense but is also providing its direct assistance to the Government and Ministry of Agriculture in revising and updating the strategy for the sector”.
Margarita Hakobyan, Head of Oxfam Armenia, mentioned in her speech about the achievements of the work that has been done: “During the work on the 2015-2025 strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Oxfam came to an agreement that food security would be included in the development strategy as one of the components. There are several specialists and work groups; it is unique for the strategy to be created by so many people and on different levels, starting from small farmers and regional governments to the national level, where many NGOs, specialists, coalitions are included in order to make the best use of it and achieve the purpose of its creation”.
The Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Armen Harutyunyan thanked in his speech the EU and the EU Delegation in Armenia for the support. “For 2015-2025 Agricultural and Rural Area Development Strategy there were created various groups with competent experts who were able to find and identify main problems that are in the agriculture sector. During the work all the agriculture sectors were revised and all the results are presented in the draft”.
After the opening remarks there were also many speakers from government, private sector and field experts who had their presentations and speeches on rural development.

Two handbooks entitled Linking multinational enterprises and Armenian SMEs in the case of the construction materials sector and Connecting Armenian SMEs to global values chains: The case of agribusiness were launched at an event devoted to “Supporting SME competitiveness in the Eastern Partner countries: Focus on Armenia” held on 4 March 2015. Speakers at the event included Dirk Lorenz, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Garagin Melkonyan, the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Economy, Gregory Leconte, Project Manager of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) “Eurasia Competitiveness” programme, and Cornelia Skokov, GIZ Team Leader.
Armenia was included in the OECD “Eurasia Competitiveness” programme in December 2013, after which working group meetings and roundtables were held. The publication and presentation of these handbooks is proof of the work carried out by SME competitiveness experts and working groups. The titles of the handbooks call for action plans for reforms that may connect Armenian SMEs in the fields of agribusiness and construction materials to partners in the EU and worldwide. “Eurasia Competitiveness” is being implemented by the OECD in partnership with GIZ, and is co-financed by the European Union.
ARS_2863Lorenz emphasised the importance of the project and expressed confidence that the results of cooperation will contribute to the improvement of the business environment in Armenia: “We think that handbooks are instrumental when it comes to further paving the way for SME internationalisation in the country. It is crucial to take concrete actions that do not just remain on paper, so that SMEs can feel the concrete results and improvements. In this regard, we are looking forward – the European Union will receive regular updates from the ministry on how these actions are being performed and implemented”.
Melkonyan introduced the role of the Ministry and other organisations involved in the programme, talking about its implementation: “Two main directions were chosen: construction materials and agribusiness. Extensive work has been carried out to study these directions, to raise problems, and to develop proposals – all of this has been reflected in the reports. Several working groups have investigated these areas, including experts from international, governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as the private sector. We wanted to involve all interested parties in this process. Our goal is to attract investors to the construction materials sector and, as a result, improve production capacity. The main objective in agribusiness is to promote the development and internationalisation of SMEs to be able to increase export volumes”.
ARS_2805Leconte summarised the key recommendations of the published handbooks: “There are some challenges and recommendations to connect Armenian SMEs to agribusiness global value chains. Some of those challenges include little knowledge of foreign markets, lack of efficient export promotion, and poor export-related business skills. In the handbooks you can find recommendations for such cases. For example, experts recommend improving export promotion efforts and disseminating export skills. There has been a lot of research done in this area, and these handbooks will be very useful for relevant stakeholders”.

On 22 October the European Union and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) organised a meeting concerning the ways of supporting local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to have access to finance and know-how.
The Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, stated that the development of SMEs was one of the EU’s main priorities in cooperation with countries like Armenia: ‘The EU’s Small Business Support Programmes, which have made this event possible, is specifically aimed at promoting and improving the work of SMEs here. This is only one of several projects and facilities that are available to Eastern Partnership countries thanks to the European Union’. Mark Davis, Head of the EBRD Yerevan Office, said: ‘It is necessary to develop a viable private sector in Armenia that will enhance the supply chain and exports’. To ensure the development of a strong private sector, the EBRD in Armenia is providing both finance and know-how to SMEs, including business advice in how to access finance.
Under the EU SME Flagship Initiative, the EBRD has invited Gavin Ryan, an international expert with over 25 years’ experience in the financial industry and private equity markets, to share his expertise on linking local SMEs to investment opportunities for growth and the possibility of becoming genuine catalysts for local economies. IMG_1354
Ryan delivered a course on management and investor factsheet preparation for SMEs to financial advisers on 23-24 October, during which he stated: ‘Both countries and companies are competing for the attention of investors. A quality factsheet should stand out, capture the attention of investors and make them curious to know more. It will do this only by both containing credible information and by presenting it well. I hope my course will help financial advisers to achieve this objective and thus better serve their clients’.

On 21 October a governmental session was convened at the Armenian Ministry of Economy to discuss EU budget support programmes, as well as future proposals.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Traian Hristea, expressed his appreciation for projects implemented until today: ‘The EU is Armenia’s largest assistance donor, and has been actively supporting Armenia since its independence. In July the EU announced a further package of assistance to Armenia in 2014-2017 focusing on private sector development, public administration reform and justice sector reform. Both sides are committed to further cooperation aimed at the continuous improvement of democratic institutions and judiciary, the promotion of human rights and rule of law, good governance, the fight against corruption, the strengthening the civil society, as we declared in Vilnius nearly a year ago.’
IMG_1326The Minister of Economy Karen Chshmarityan noted: ‘We tend to deepen our relations with the European Union and to expand the fields covered by the EU Budget Support. Today we have gathered here to summarise the Budget Support activities that were carried out so far. Budget Support is one of the key support instruments that the EU provides to Armenia and corresponding research shows that it is also one of the most efficient ones’.
EU budget support offers a platform for dialogue with a partner country (including government, national control bodies, and civil society) on policies and on their financing, objectives and results. This is consistent with the principles of ownership, transparency and accountability. Budget support is provided as a “vector of change” to address key development challenges. The EU provides budget support to the Republic of Armenia in the areas of economic development, education, justice reforms and rural development.
With the support of the European Union, Armenia has so far managed to improve the vocational and educational training through better courses, aligned with the labour market needs, as well as renovated colleges and a 50% increase in the number of available places for students. Efforts are ongoing for the development of agricultural cooperatives, and the improvement of the judicial and penitentiary systems in the country. Moreover, with EU support Armenia introduced an e-civil registry system for electronic management of birth, death, marriage, divorce or adoption certificates, and is now issuing biometric passports to all citizens. There have also been a multitude of other technical improvements affecting fields as varied as internal audit, public procurement, public accounting, food safety, public debt management, intellectual property rights, or customs procedures, to name but a few.
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