Tag Archives: Shirak marz

With the EU support, an entire value-chain development approach for woollen products is being restored in Amasia (Shirak marz) and the surrounding 8 communities. The “EU4 Shirak: Wool for jobs” project is being implemented by People in Need – Armenia (PIN) in cooperation with Women’s Development “Resource Centre” Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Shirak marz, and Amasia Municipality. It is funded by the EU and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia through the Pilot Regional Development Programme (PRDP). This two-year project has a total budget of €549,819 (the EU contribution is €335,000).

556A wool-processing factory is being established in Shirak marz, including infrastructure and production lines. The former cinema building, which was not being used, has been turned into a wool-processing factory after renovation and will provide jobs to not only the residents of Amasia, but also the surrounding communities. The equipment will mainly be imported from Italy and China, but domestic equipment will also be used for production. It is expected that the equipment will be installed in the middle of February, and the factory will be officially opened in April.

The project will help local 14 SMEs to develop their capacities, and 60 permanent jobs will be created in the marz. 150 job seekers registered in employment centres will develop their skills through training, raising their competitiveness in the labour market as a result of the project. SMEs and the wool-processing factory will be united by establishing a regional association that will promote effective business relationships and promote sales of goods. Thus, Shirak marz will become a centre of quality yarn and woollen goods production.

1Jemma Harutyunyan, the Head of Amasia Community, Shirak marz, highlighted the importance of the project: “Providing jobs to women is very important. Not only women from Amasia will work but there will be also an opportunity to address women’s unemployment in 9 settlements in our community. This is a great achievement for the people of our community, until now, the wool was completely thrown away, it was not used, and it seemed to be redundant”.

3Ruzanna Torozyan, the President of Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation presented their support for the project: “Our centre has the “Wool to Carpet” studio in Shinuhayr, the largest village in Syunik marz. This village has the highest rate of poverty and migration. We are very happy that we now can share this best experience with our partners. In Amasia we will be responsible for the factory’s professional training and the entire process. Some of the 30 women studying here will work in the wool-spinning factory, some of them will work in wool-testing and -washing facilities, and we also have women working in the dyeing facility. The factory will be big and we will have the opportunity to create more than 20 jobs. Other women who are really interested in working with us will have the opportunity to work from home because our company is entering the thread market. They can join our markets, produce yarn fibres at home, and earn”.

ARS_0639On 20 May the “EU4Shirak: Wool for Jobs” project was officially launched in Amasia, Shirak marz. The project is financed through the Pilot Regional Development Programme. The launch event was attended by the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, the Armenian Minister of Agriculture, Arthur Khachatryan, and the Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Suren Papikyan. The experience of the “Wool to Carpet” studio in Shinuhayr community in Syunik marz was presented to the guests to give them the full picture of the expected results for Amasia.
The proposed action follows a value chain development approach for woollen products, from sheep to customer. A wool-processing factory will be established in the community of Amasia, creating at least 20 jobs. To create further new jobs and contribute to economic development, the project will finance 14 proposals offered by SMEs, providing at least 40 new jobs. About 150 job seekers registered in employment centres will develop their skills through training, raising their competitiveness in the labour market. This EU-funded project will also contribute to the development of sheep breeding in the region by providing a stable income for local farmers. The two-year project has a total budget of €549,819 (the EU contribution is €335,000). The project will be implemented by People In Need – Armenia (PIN), in cooperation with Women’s Development “Resource Centre” Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Shirak marz, and the Amasia Municipality.

ARS_0761EU Ambassador congratulated those who have worked hard for the project: ‘The EU is very committed to promoting regional development in Armenia. This project is one of several which we have launched in different marzes. To me, this region is one of the most beautiful corners of Armenia and I am so grateful that we can cooperate on new development ideas, create new jobs, and bring hope to the citizens of this marz. This commitment to regional development is long term; we hope very much that the new government can take this commitment forward, and that we can start new initiatives’.

ARS_0812Minister Papikyan welcomed EU support for the equal development of Armenian marzes: ‘The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development attaches importance to the equal development of Armenia; we have been in constant dialogue with the EU since 2009. The aim of this cooperation is to ensure the implementation of projects and initiatives which complement regional development priorities and bring effective and sustainable results’.

ARS_0848Khachatryan spoke more about the implementation of the project: ‘This project is aimed at restoring traditional sheep breeding. In Armenia, we used to have over 2 million head of cattle – today’s number is barely a quarter of that. We should be able to develop sheep breeding, taking into account the ever-lasting demand for meat. To have good woollen products, we need to have good sheep, but we cannot imagine good sheep without a feeding base, without good cultivated lands, etc. The project take a value chain development; thousands of households will enjoy the impact of this indirectly. If we want to prevent emigration, we should not have more than 40% of non-cultivated land in the country. We need to support smaller producers and processors, not just large businesses. This project can be a great example’.

On 25-28 January the 5th National Selection Conference of European Youth Parliament (EYP) Armenia took place in Gyumri, Shirak marz, as part of the “Democratic Citizenship: Obtaining, Developing, Empowering” (DECODE) project. More than 100 participants gathered from all over Armenia and Europe to discuss various topics in their respective committees. On 26 January the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski and Samvel Balasanyan, the Mayor of Gyumri participated in the conference’s official opening ceremony.
EYP Armenia was founded in 2012 and become a successful network and platform for active youth in Armenia. It has given young people the chance to express their viewpoints, develop critical thinking, and become a coherent part of socio-economic and political life, both in Armenia and the EU. Since then, more than 40 regional, national and international projects and events have been implemented, engaging around 4,500 young people from Armenia (as well as hundreds of foreign participants).

ARS_7158Ambassador Świtalski wished all conference participants success: ‘I think it is very important that young people come to Armenia from different European countries and consolidate the bridge between Armenia and Europe. We, the European Union, want to support the young generation. In Armenia young people are our primary target. The EU has been working through different projects and ideas; one of the most notable is the EU4Youth programme. By 2020 the programme will award €20 million in grants to 100 organisations to increase young people’s civic engagement and participation in political discourse, as well as their skills development, employability and employment. We are now starting 5 projects; 4 of them will be implemented in Armenia. We will soon launch them and I am very happy that Armenia is taking the lead in implementation. All four projects will target youth, particularly disadvantaged youth, and support their education, skills development and employability’.

ARS_7255During the conference, participants discussed various social issues, from unemployment to security. After four days of discussion, the participants have to present open voting solutions to the European Youth Parliament’s Berlin Office, as well as to relevant state and private agencies. Participants from European countries also had the opportunity to learn about Armenian culture, history, and heritage. Upon completion of the Gyumri National Selection Conference, the 9 best-performing participants were selected by the panel to take part in the 87th International Session of the European Youth Parliament in Vilnius, which will take place in summer 2018.

On 25 October the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, was in Gyumri, Shirak marz, on a working visit. In the morning the Ambassador met the Governor of Shirak, Arthur Khachatryan.

ARS_6983After the meeting, the Ambassador participated in the opening ceremony of an IT incubation laboratory at Gyumri Technology Centre. Microsoft Innovation Centre Armenia opened the IT incubation laboratory as part of the “Boosting Technological Developments in Shirak Marz” project, funded by the European Union and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. The project aims to support Shirak’s economic development by enrichment of unemployed youth and business development of IT community. This two-year project was launched in December 2016 and has a budget of €750,000.
The incubation laboratory will provide a 5-month coding boot camp in information technologies for unemployed 17- to 35-year-olds living in Shirak. The project will collaborates with local IT companies to identify human resource demands and train junior developers. It will include nearly 200 participants. The first round of training has already been completed, and more than 50 people have sat an intensive training course on programming. Starting from November, they will be sent on coding boot camps by potential employers. The programme expects to have newly trained 90 IT professionals employed at local companies.

ARS_6729Ambassador Świtalski spoke about the importance of informational technologies: ‘There are many reasons to feel happy for this event. Firstly, this is the first and one of the most important projects that we are doing together with the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. It is a part of our joint effort to boost regional development – I am happy to see the results. Secondly, this project is about IT technology, a digital Armenia. We believe that Armenia has big potential, particularly in this field. The EU wants to support all the efforts of the Armenian government and stakeholders. Thirdly, it’s not only about capacity building, it’s about job creation. We hope very much that sub-granting employers could benefit from this lab. Fourthly, it’s about the new generation. We believe in Armenian youth; we want to develop their abilities and to fulfil their aspirations in Armenia itself. Finally, this project is important for its regional focus in Gyumri, Shirak. We want to do more projects in this city and the whole marz’.

ARS_6768The Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Davit Lokyan, highlighted the importance of the laboratory: ‘Through this project, we are trying to reduce youth unemployment in Shirak and improve young people’s knowledge and skills in IT, a priority for Armenia today. In Shirak, GDP per capita is the lowest in Armenia and the government has set itself a task to improve the situation by 2025’.

ARS_6752The Director of the Microsoft Innovation Centre Armenia, Artashes Vardanyan, noted that Shirak has huge potential: ‘Shirak has huge human resource potential. The project aims to both expand IT companies and create new workplaces through buildings skills and knowledge among unemployed youth and better positioning in local and international markets’.

After the tour, the project announced the results of a sub-grant opportunity. 7 local IT companies will receive sub-grants of €5000-€10,000 to expand their activities and create new workplaces for project trainees.
Ambassador Świtalski concluded the day by visiting the Emili Aregak Support and Resource Centre for Children and Youth with Disabilities in Gyumri.

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’.