Improvement of the Livelihood of Rural Households in Vayots Dzor and Gegharkunik Marzes through Horticulture Development
Syunik-Development NGO has a long history of experience in irrigation projects and agricultural initiatives, implemented with the assistance of both national and international organizations. In agriculture, Syunik NGO has produced bio-humus while at the same time also introducing technical aspects of the use of bio-humus in plant cultivation into the rural communities.
Horticulture Development Project Goal
Small holder Households in Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor regions improved their livelihoods due to additional revenues from fruit value chain.
In 2011, Syunik-Development NGO launched a horticulture development project aimed at improving the living conditions of the rural population through better access to high quality agricultural inputs, improvement of agricultural practices, and eased access to market for local farmers from seven target villages in Vayots Dzor.
In January 2015, Syunik NGO jointly started with Shen NGO a new agricultural project entitled Improvement of the Livelihood of Rural Households in Vayots Dzor and Gegharkunik Marzes through horticulture development. The project works in eighteen villages: eight from Gegharkunik and ten from Vayots Dzor region. The overall goal of the project is to increase income and improve Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor regions farmers living condition through participation in a sustainable fruit value chain. The project also empowers the target communities and enables them to become self-sustaining so as to provide a dignified life for their citizens.
Nursery: Seven farmers in the village of Getap recieved assistance in the scope of Syunik’s agricultural project to establish a nursery. The nursery provides local farmers of the Vayots Dzor and Gegharkunik regions with high quality fruit saplings as well as grapes based on current market tendencies. Alongside of the saplings for nursery clients, embeded services on best practices for establishing fruit orchards and modern agriculuture techniques also have been provided.
Capacity Building: Syunik NGO consistently aims at assisting local farmers in obtaining adaptable and flexible knowledge and skills to improve their farm management techniques. Seven lead farmers were selected and trained by the project’s agricultural and marketing specialist to provide embedded services to their peer farmers (Market for Poor Approach, M4P). Seven demonstration orchards were established, one in each of the lead farmers’ communities. The main technologies applied in the demonstration orchards was the application of new and adopted pesticides against frequently occuring diseases and insects of the region. Bio, mineral and complex chemical fertilizers were also applied to the soil.
Marketing Component: Seven marketing groups consisting of 3-4 farmers each were established in each of the seven beneficiary communities. A collaborative approach was developed by the marketing groups for the marketing of their products, a service which was not available before the start of the project. Local farmers from the seven targeted communities were encouraged to take part in the local fruit and wine festivals as vendors. This was a platform for local farmers to establish new linkages with processing companies and indeed, several successful ties were established between buyers (food companies, wine and brandy companies, supermarkets, exporting companies, and individuals who bought products on display at the open markets, fruit and wine festivals and agricultural fair) and the local fruit/grape growers during these events. In addition, the farmers were encouraged to organize the marketing of their product through online domains and social networks.
Storage Facility: In the scope of its horticulture development project, Syunik NGO founded a local storage facility complete with a modern cooling and isolation system.
To support local fruit growers in receiving additional income from the marketing of their produce during off-seasons through the utilization of a regional produce storage facility. The overall capacity of the storage facility with its size of 187.3 m2 is 80 tons
Demo Dwarf Orchard: Through collaboration with the PUM Netherlands Senior Experts Organization, Syunik NGO established a demonstrational dwarf orchard for apples and pears. The orchard now serves as a centre of competence and demonstrations for fruit growers in the region.
Adaptation of Dwarf Orchard Cultivation Technologies: As a result of collaboration with the PUM Netherlands Organization Senior Export, Mr. Frans Heldens, Syunik NGO hosted a consulting visit for project implement in August of 2011. As a former fruit farm owner himself, Mr. Heldens provided a very strong theoretical and up-to-date practical knowledge for the placement of high-quality and high-yielding young trees, hybrid rootstocks, state-of-the-art agricultural cultivation technologies, and of new varieties of fruit-bearing plants, all of which he shared with local fruit growers. Mr. Heldens’ close cooperation with the best nurseries in the Netherlands made him a invaluable asset for the exchange of best practices.
Syunik NGO applied for this expert advice in order to build the capacity of both the project staff and beneficiary farmers, to raise awareness of new technologies in the field and improved methods used in the Netherlands, and to establish close relations with the best nurseries in the Netherlands so as to obtain high-quality and high-yielding young trees and hybrid rootstocks for local farmers, thus improving the input of their farms. After seeing first-hand the progress and energy going to supporting local farmers in rural communities, Mr. Heldens returned to the Netherlands and raised the funds necessary to purchase two types of elite apple plants (250 Golden Reindeers and 250 Jonagold on M26) as well as an additional 500 hybrid rootstocks, sending them all to Syunik NGO in 2012. With the help of these plants and rootstocks, Syunik NGO was able to establish a demonstration nursery and orchard. While these initial seedlings were a great addition to the local nursery in Vayots Dzor region, allowing local farmers to have access to high-quality young trees and hybrid rootstocks, this was not the end of the collaboration: Syunik NGO and the Fairplant Nursery in the Netherlands established working ties through the facilitation of the PUM Organization. As a result of this collaboration, the hybrid nursery of Syunik NGO was enlarged with Quince and Plum rootstocks (100 Cydoniaoblonga Kwee MA VF, 800 Prunus dom. in. St Julien A VF and 100 Prunus Colt VF) which were sent from the Netherlands by Fairplant. Currently, this orchard and nursery serves as a centre of competence and demonstrations for fruit growers in both the Vayots Dzor and Gegharkunik regions. Through cross visits, demonstrations, and on-the-spot workshops conducted by the project specialist, PUM experts and an agriculture adviser from HEKS/EPER, the initiative continues to thrive.