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Armenia is a Eurasian country located in the South Caucasus region. Its population is about three million, and the name of its capital is Yerevan. Although situated between the Black and Caspian Seas, Armenia is a landlocked country. It is administratively divided into 10 provinces (marz). Each province comprises one or more settlements, which are classified as either towns or villages. The total number of rural and urban communities is about 915. Armenia inherited centralized planning and state-owned large farms from the Soviet-era, but since gaining independence in 1991, it has undertaken major reforms towards privatization of land and market liberalization, earning appreciation and receiving assistance from international development institutions. 

The climate of Armenia is continental, with dry summers but moderate temperatures. As the country is mountainous, with an average altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level, it has relatively long autumns and snow-filled winters. According to an estimate, more than 88 percent of farmers cultivate farms of less than two-hectare size although the average size could differ from region to region. Crops include wheat, barley, oats, beans, tobacco, potato, cabbage, tomato, onion, cotton, flax, hemp, hook and alfalfa. Fruits grown are grapes, apricot, apples, peach, plum, pear, walnut and some others. Lately, many farmers have been following organic farming. Viticulture is of great importance for Armenia because brandy and wine prepared from its special quality grape varieties are in great demand internationally. Livestock-raising is popular in all villages and covers cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and horses. Water sources for irrigation of crops include rivers, lakes and underground water. Annual rainfall varies from 250 mm in arid regions to 1,000 mm in the highlands.


Armenia had no conventional agricultural extension or advisory services while under the Soviet Bloc. Large state-owned collective farms, created by abolishing the private ownership, were operated by teams of agronomists and other employees for the sole purpose of providing the produce to the Soviet markets in line with the targets set through a centralized planning process. After gaining independence in 1991, Armenia gradually dismantled collective farms and the land was distributed among individuals. The new farm owners obviously needed technical advice for operating their farms profitably, and a huge vacuum was felt in the absence of a formal extension service. The United States was the first country to immediately fill this gap, and as briefly described below, the USA’s assistance was key in building the agricultural extension system of Armenia over a period of 13 years.

Just one year after the independence, Armenia’s Ministry of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Starting 1992, the USDA and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) provided financial and technical assistance to Armenia in the development of an agricultural extension system. Several US land-grant universities notably Michigan State University, University of California at Davis, and Utah State University fielded technical experts to Armenia. The following are milestones of the assistance that steadily developed the extension system:
  • Farmer-to-Farmer Program initiated in Armenia in 1992
  • The foundation of an extension system laid in 1993
  • The Armenian/American Extension Project implemented from 1993 to1995
  • The Marketing Assistance Project (MAP) implemented from 1996 to2000
  • The MAP transformed into a need-driven program during the period 2000 to 2005
  • Agricultural Extension Department established within the Armenian Agricultural Academy (now called Armenian State Agrarian University), jointly by the World Bank and USDA
  • Agricultural Training Center established as an academic department within the Armenian Agricultural Academy
  • Regional Agricultural Support Centers established in each marz of the country
  • Research unit added to the Agricultural Extension Department that will later lead to the creation of the Applied Research and Agribusiness Foundation
  • Agricultural Support Republic Center created in 2010 that would provide communication support to agricultural extension through printed materials and television programs, develop training programs, introduce improved technologies, and provide marketing services through its website AgroWeb
  • Farmers’ organizations formed under the Federation of Agricultural Association
  • The management of certain programs (like credit clubs, 4-H Youth Program, goat breeding program), previously operated by the MAP, taken over by the Agribusiness and Rural Development Center, a national NGO, with the objective of sustaining the gains of the MAP
Andrea Bohn,
29 de dic. de 2010 10:05