Monday, November 5 2018 18:32
Alina Hovhannisyan

Association of Organic Agriculture is being created in Armenia

Association of Organic Agriculture is being created in Armenia

ArmInfo.In Armenia, the OASI (Organic Agriculture Supporting Initiative) program, initiated in January 2015 by the Austrian Development Agency in cooperation with  the Ministry of Agriculture, is approaching its completion.

The goal of the program is to support farmers and agribusiness to ensure the  transition to organic agriculture, increase agricultural production,  develop new international markets, and provide bioproducts to the  local market. The initiative managed to involve 45 beneficiaries  (small producers), who were assisted of various kinds, ranging from  seminars to participation in international exhibitions.  Representatives of the program told ArmInfo earlier that in the  general structure of traditional agriculture in Armenia, the share of  organic matter is only 0.01%, linking low production volumes with a  lack of public awareness, in particular regarding the benefits of  organic production. Although the sphere, according to experts, has a  rather high potential. In order to clarify the future of organic  agriculture in Armenia, given the completion of the OASI program,  ArmInfo talks with the chairman of the recently established  Association for the Development of Organic Agriculture of the RA,  Lusine Nalbandian.

According to her, the OASI program of the Austrian Development Agency  is coming to an end, and soon a new project "Green Agriculture" will  start, which will cover a wider segment of the agricultural sector.   <Consequently, we decided to create an association, firstly, in order  not to lose the results that we managed to achieve by working with  manufacturers within the OASI, and secondly, because having such an  organization would simplify the solution of issues related to  protecting the interests of organic producers.  products, bringing  together all on one site. In the end, it is easier to build a  dialogue with the state if speaking on behalf of the Association,  rather than of a single manufacturer, moreover, it simplifies access  to the markets. On the whole, our main goal is to promote the  development of the industry in Armenia,> she noted.

It has been repeatedly said that Armenia cannot compete in the  international market in quantitative terms, but in terms of  qualitative parameters we are not inferior to competitors. Thus, the  Association will become a platform where Armenia can position itself  as a manufacturer of high-quality environmentally friendly products.  Therefore, beginning in April of this year, work began on the  creation of the Association, and numerous meetings were held with  interested parties. "Organic agriculture in our economy is considered  a priority, but all this is limited so far by exceptionally beautiful  words. There is no state support, moreover, we don't have a  department in the Ministry that would deal exclusively with the  development of this profile, which is a very big gap. Therefore, it  is very good when there are various international promotional  programs, but the development of organic agriculture in the country  should not depend solely on international organizations, "Nalbandyan  stressed.

She noted that the Association will have several industry trends. <We  decided to divide the participants into groups, in accordance with  the products produced, in particular honey, the collection of wild  herbs, the processing and production of any other organic culture,  there is a department of services, marketing and promotion that will  provide services, fertilizers, means of protection, etc. d at more  affordable prices for farmers. In addition, many farmers have  difficulty obtaining certification. <For example, when he decides to  switch to organic production, he is given a standard with which to  review and draw up a management plan. For the farmer, all this is not  so easy, sometimes not very clear. Therefore, we intend to provide  proper advice to simplify this process. That is, in our activities we  will put a very important emphasis on knowledge. This is a  large-scale and versatile work that the Association has undertaken.  In addition, we want to work to identify and eliminate the presence  of fake organic products on the market, which I, unfortunately, have  repeatedly met on the shelves of our stores, the expert said.  The  specialist believes that the farmer will not start the production of  organic products, guided solely by the fact that organic matter  belongs to the category of healthy organic food. <The farmer, of  course, is thinking about income, and in this regard is absolutely  right. But on the other hand, if you choose the right crop, properly  organize the entire production chain, then the farmer will receive a  guaranteed sale of their products at a good price. For example, the  price of organic apricot is 5 times the cost of the usual. I think  this is a very good indicator. Although the production of organic  matter is quite a costly process, but those farmers who still take  the risk, will definitely be in the lead. Sooner or later, people  will come to the conclusion that it is necessary to produce what is  for sale without any problems, "she said. But today the situation is  different. The farmer, when choosing an agricultural crop, is guided  by the price policy on the market. For example, after the increase in  prices for tomatoes, the greenhouses of the farmers were filled with  tomato seedlings, although our people in the winter are not  particularly chasing this crop. That is, in the global sense, the  main problem of agriculture in Armenia, not only organic, is the lack  of agricultural planning. People are guided solely by market prices  when choosing crops. <We are not able to the last link in this entire  production chain to plan everything correctly. In Armenia, they  prefer traditional agriculture, and often, we are not ready to do  something in a new way. Today, about 120 farmers from almost all  regions of Armenia, with the exception of Shirak, are engaged in  organic farming. But there is another problem. We do not have a  register regarding the volume of organic products, both in terms of  hectares and in terms of tonnage of the crop. In fact, this is very  important information for the development of the industry. We need to  know and understand what we have in order to plan everything  correctly, "said the expert.

Eespert believes that the demand for organics is quite high. <In  particular, our organic products are exported to Europe, the United  Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, Japan, England. But at the  same time, we have a problem with the diversification of  eco-products. That is, basically the same products are produced in  Armenia - dried fruits, tea, wild harvest, honey, juices - in  general, no more than 10 items. One cannot find, for example, organic  fresh vegetables, various fruits, eggs, etc. Organic matter in our  country develops only in those areas that are easiest to deal with.  Consequently, we have to work in the direction of expanding the  range.

To increase production volumes, the correct state subsidies of the  sector would help. Yes, the Ministry of Agriculture of Armenia  promised to render assistance to agricultural producers of organic  products, but, as they say, "to promise is not to marry". But I hope  that the program will still be launched. It is not necessary to  invent a bicycle. There is a good international experience that can  be taken and implemented in accordance with the specifics of our  country and based on the available resources, Nalbandyan stressed. 

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