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Together for Organic Agriculture: EU/Austria Initiative Helps Organic Farmers in Armenia

Within the framework of the Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has successfully implemented a major project to promote organic farming.

SDG 1: No poverty, SDG 2: Zero hunger, SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth, SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production,
 May 2019

Vienna, May 16, 2019 - Approximately half of the Armenian population make their living within a smallholder agricultural system - most of them, however, with little know-how and without the necessary machines. That this will change in the future is the declared goal of the "Organic Agriculture Support Initiative" (OASI) - one of the projects initiated in September 2015 by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) on behalf of the EU. Here, small farmers get support in the form of urgently needed machines and other appliances as well as financial assistance to help them convert from a system of conventional to one of organic production.

One of them is Areg Galstyan. The 25-year-old trained pharmacist produces organic herbs for teas that are used in medicine. He has developed a completely biological production process and has had great success with it. Thanks to the OASI funding, he was able to purchase the necessary machines to manufacture his products according to EU standards and market them for export. "That really cranked up my production of organic herbs. Meanwhile, we already have four business partners in Germany", the herb farmer enthused. Galstyan has also become active on behalf of organic agriculture at a national level. As Board member and coordinator for the "Organic Herbs" group in the newly founded Armenian Agricultural Association "Organic Armenia" he is trying to give certified farmers a voice.

Win-win with OASI

Areg Galstyan is only one of altogether 45 farmers and producers who, with the help of OASI, were able to switch their production from a system of conventional to one of organic agriculture. As part of the OASI initiative, they also received support with the marketing and distribution of their organic products on local and international markets. Products such as berries, honey, dried fruits, herbal teas and organic fertilizers received new branding and new packaging. Marketing campaigns enhanced awareness for the benefits of organic food products among the Armenian farmers and consumers by 40 percent. In the meantime, Armenian agricultural schools have also adopted courses on organic farming into their curricula. Through this, and with the help of respective textbooks and other training materials, Armenia now trains its own future agricultural experts.

In addition, in close cooperation with the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, significant improvements in the legal framework for organic farming were achieved. All these efforts led to the creation of 680 over the past three and a half years – and, last but not least, to a significant increase of turnover for all those involved.

Number of organic producers doubled

This is a very positive result - not even four years after the kick-off of the initiative! "In 2015, we set out to unite, strengthen, and expand the organic sector in Armenia. We are particularly pleased that the number of organic farmers and producers has since doubled. Armenian

Organic products are increasingly attracting international interest - among other things at trade fairs in Dubai, Germany and Great Britain. As a result, we get orders worth over half a million Euros", OASI project manager David Muckenhuber and Gerhard Schaumberger, Manager of ADA’s International Office in Jerewan commented on the successful conclusion of the project.

Premiere for ADA

The "Organic Agriculture Support Initiative" covered the period of September 2015 to the end of March 2019. Altogether 3.3 million Euros were invested into the promotion of ecological agriculture in Armenia. The majority of this money - 2.8 million Euros – came from EU funds. ADA contributed the considerable sum of 500,000 Euros. For ADA, the project is a premiere in two respects: on the one hand, OASI is the most comprehensive initiative the Austrian Development Agency ever implemented for the EU in the Armenia - and it is the first cooperation in the country with ADA in the role of both the donor as well as implementer.

Cooperation with EU Will Continue

"Every end is a new beginning - ADA is a reliable partner for the EU in the field of agriculture. The success of OASI is proof of this. In the future, we will continue to advocate the expansion of organic agriculture in Armenia. We are currently already working with the EU on another - and still more extensive - project in this area, which will start in the coming months,” ADA Managing Director Martin Ledolter emphasizes.

About the Austrian Development Agency (ADA)

The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) supports countries in Africa, Asia, Southeast and Eastern Europe in their sustainable development efforts. Together with public institutions, non-governmental organisations and private companies, ADA currently implements projects and programmes with a total volume of EUR 500 million.


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Petra Allekotte