11.7 million Euro project “Organic Agriculture” to kick off in Armenia
YEREVAN, MARCH 22, ARMENPRESS. The results of the EUR 3.3 million project "Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI)" funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by the Austrian Development Agency were wrapped-up on March 22. The project launched in 2015 for the development of organic agriculture in Armenia and was implemented close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI).
The closing event was combined with the presentation of the upgraded Green Training Centre (GTC) in Dzoraghbyur (Kotayk) and the opening of the new GTC in Archis (Tavush), where the project provided brand new machinery, tools and equipment to enhance the demonstration capacities of both centers. During the event, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia H.E. Mr. Piotr Świtalski cut the ribbon to mark the re-opening of the Green Training Centre (GTC) and planted an organic tree.
“The European Union supports agriculture as one of the main sectors of the Armenian economy contributing about 18% to the GDP and providing about 36% of the labour force. Agriculture and rural development are among the cornerstones of the broader sustainability agenda - as it is stated in the current Armenia Development Strategy 2014 – 2025. Organic agriculture could be a niche in Armenia, and that it is in line with the local context to rely on the high quality of products instead of the quantity. The EU's Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI) has contributed to implementation of the Armenian Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategy by supporting the revision of the Law on organic agriculture and other regulatory documents. Among the activities of the programme was the promotion of organic extension services, raising awareness on organic production and products, increasing market access for the producers and promoting agricultural education sector”, said Ambassador Świtalski.
With the financial assistance of the European Union, the OASI project has provided about EUR 1 million directly to 45 Armenian farmers and processors to start or expand their organic production. An organic agriculture curriculum was integrated into Armenian agricultural colleges to educate future agronomists, and respective schoolbooks and training manuals were developed. The project also provided concrete input to the government to improve the legislative and regulatory framework for organic production and trade.
The organic products were provided with new branding and packaging and promoted at local and international markets. Through campaigns like “Organic September” the awareness on the advantages of organic food among the population in Armenia has increased by 40%. While creating 680 permanent and seasonal jobs, the turnover of the organic producers has significantly increased.
“We embarked to this journey in 2015 with the goal to consolidate, strengthen and grow the organic sector in Armenia. I am delighted that since then, the number of organic producers has doubled. Tasty Armenian organic products also caught the attention of international buyers at exhibitions in Dubai, Germany, and the UK, resulting in contracts worth over 0.5 Million Euros”, - said the OASI Project Team Leader Mr. David Muckenhuber (ADA).
Another project milestone was the founding of the “Organic Armenia Association”, which was created to provide a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic farmers and processors and to build and support a producer-led national organic movement and national policy platform.
“Every end is a new beginning – through the good work of the project ADA could prove itself as trusted partner of the EU in the field of agriculture, and soon we are to launch a EUR 11.7 million project on Green Agriculture Development in Armenia with the generous support of the EU”, emphasised Gerhard Schaumberger, ADA Head of Office for the South Caucasus.