Buckwheat that is locally produced, processed and marketed on a large scale is a first for Armenian farmers. But thanks to the provision of machinery and equipment, technical assistance and, most recently, a newly installed processing factory funded by the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Armenia's buckwheat production recently experienced a significant boost.
Sell and earn
On 6 December 2016, the country's first buckwheat processing plant ever was inaugurated at freezing minus 8 degrees Celsius by the Head of ADA's local office in Yerevan, Gerhard Schaumberger, in the community of Tsovagyugh. Now Armenian buckwheat farmers can process their harvest in the factory, sell it and earn income. It is expected that the locally produced buckwheat bearing the brand "Tsovhatik" will soon appear on the shelves of local groceries and supermarkets for consumers to enjoy. The opening of the factory was therefore met with particular joy by local farmers, whose income is likely to increase significantly once their buckwheat is for sale in local stores.
For almost two years now, EU and ADA have been joining hands to promote sustainable agricultural development in Armenia. The "Producer Group and Value Chain Development" project is the outcome of their cooperation. The main objective of the initiative is to support the establishment of agricultural cooperatives and strengthen already existing producer groups in Armenia. It further aims at building local businesses' capacities and increasing overall buckwheat production volume.
Help for more than 500 farmers
Launched in January 2015, the project works with 52 producer and processing groups in five value chains. It has a duration of 36 months and is being implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In total, 551 Armenian farmers from 67 communities received buckwheat seeds and fertilizers. Two processing cooperatives in Bavra and Tsovagyugh were equipped with urgently needed factory machinery. In addition to that, trainings with local and international experts on buckwheat sowing, fertilizing, harvesting, storage and processing practices make sure that every single grain of Armenian buckwheat is used in the best possible way. The participating farmers also acquire knowledge in marketing as well as buckwheat-related beekeeping and honey production. So far, the programme activities have added significant value to the country's increasingly profitable crop.
The project is part of the EU-financed European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). Out of the total contract sum of EUR 3.4 million, ADA contributed top-up funding in the amount of EUR 1 million.