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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’.

The EU remains a steadfast supporter of the Armenia’s sustainable agricultural development. The largest of the EU funded projects in this sector is ENPARD, a three-year programme implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN Industrial Development Organisation, and the UN Development Programme.
ENPARD’s third stakeholder meeting took place on 27 September 2016, aiming to present and discuss the project’s recent developments and achievements.
120x200 rollup mapAs part of the project, 51 training courses on business-orientated cooperation have been delivered in 122 communities across all marzes of Armenia, involving 667 participants, of which 227 are women. Training courses on cooperative establishment and business skills development have been organised for 41 primary production groups (more than 600 farmers), which later received support to develop their own business plans. 34 buckwheat production groups, 4 groups of non-traditional vegetable production, 6 high-value cheese cooperatives and 6 dried fruit and herb cooperatives have received support from the project in the form of agricultural inputs, greenhouses, drip irrigation systems, equipment, and assets. 2 buckwheat hulling factories are being constructed and will soon begin operations in Tsovagyugh and Bavra. By the end of year 2, primary fruit production groups will receive agricultural machinery; 1 group of berry producers will be provided with berry saplings and a drip irrigation system.
“Agriculture is not a thing that can be done in two seconds. Agriculture is people, agriculture is families, communities that need our help. Within this project we have already established cooperatives, cultivated new products and brought them to market – this is just the beginning”, – said John Barker, International Aid/Cooperation Officer of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
The newly appointed Armenian Minister of Agriculture, Ignati Arakelyan, spoke about agricultural legislation: ‘Within ENPARD we have not only established cooperatives – a big added value success for farmers – but also have introduced legislation on cooperatives. However, we must continue to take steps and create conditions to strengthen and develop cooperation among farmers so they continue to create successful cooperatives’.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Armen Harutyunyan stated that ENPARD would be continued, and that there was already a preliminary agreement with the European Union to start a new €10 million project in 2017. Another EU-funded project co-funded by the Austrian Development Agency is also ongoing, targeted at developing organic agriculture in Armenia.

The EU has provided €25 million for the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) in Armenia. €20 million of this support will be allocated as budget support to the Armenian government and €5 million as additional assistance for the sustainable and comprehensive development of rural communities.
Within the framework of the “Technical Assistance to the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture” project implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), a roundtable discussion was held on 15 July 2015. This roundtable was dedicated to plant genetic resource conservation and sustainable improvement.
The Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, a representative from the UN and other agricultural experts attended the event.
ARS_1128Vahan Amirkhanyan from FAO talked about the details of the project: ‘In terms of additional assistance, the EU has requested that FAO provide technical assistance in four major areas: support to institutional development and policy harmonisation, sustainable use and management of agricultural produce and natural resources, capacity and infrastructure building in rural areas, and the improvement of universal agricultural accounting statistics’.
Armenia is a major centre for plant cultivatation in the world, and the list of implementation activities for the “Sustainable rural and agricultural development strategy for 2010-2020 in Armenia” includes the development and rolling out of a national programme for conservation and balanced use of agricultural crops and their wild-growing congeners. The first phase includes the assesment and analysis of the current situation.The assessment of urgent needs was discussed at the roundtable.
Subsquent steps in the development of the national programme were also discussed at the roundtable, as well as other ENPARD activities related to plant genetic resource conservation and sustainable food production and agriculture.