Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia: Meetings with community members in Syunik and Vayots Dzor

From September 9-10, 2021, meeting-discussions were organized in target marzes of Syunik, and Vayots Dzor within the framework of the “Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia” project, implemented by the WWF Caucasus in Armenia (WWF-Armenia) in partnership with Strategic Development Agency NGO and financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The meetings were attended by representatives of WWF-Armenia և SDA NGO, administrative heads of selected settlements, community leaders, as well as community residents.

The purpose of the meetings was to define the current problems and possible solutions in the fields of livestock, tourism, wild collection and other areas through discussions with the community members, and to use the collected information for the project design and implementation stages.

The purpose of the meetings was to introduce and through discussions to confirm the relevance and efficiency of the selected value chains (livestock / fodder, tourism / hospitality and wild collection).  The obstacles of the development of the outlined value chains as well as the proposed projects and mechanisms for their solutions were discussed. The collected information will serve as a basis for the program design.

During the meetings, the representatives of WWF-Armenia and SDA NGO introduced to participants the “Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia” project, its goals, and possible directions. During the meetings, the mechanisms of sustainable and effective usage and management of natural resources in the communities were discussed. As well as the correlation of natural resources and biodiversity with economic growth, the possible directions of community development were discussed – the incomes of farmers and rural businesses, the opportunities and potential to improve  livelihoods of the rural population.

The “Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia” project implemented by the WWF Caucasus in Armenia (WWF-Armenia) in partnership with Strategic Development Agency NGO is a part of a larger regional program Eco-Corridor Fund for the Caucasus (ECF), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the KfW Development Bank.

The Awareness-Raising Campaign on “Benefits of Sustainable Pasture Management” in Lori, Shirak, Gegharkunik and Tavush marzes of RA is over.

On August 16, the awareness-raising campaign under the slogan “Let’s preserve our pasture to protect the future of our children” on the benefits of sustainable pasture management launched on March 24, 2021, by 25 enlarged communities of  Lori, Shirak, Gegharkunik, and Tavush marzes, has become to its end. The awareness-raising campaign was organized within the framework of the “Livestock Development in Armenia: South-North” project implemented by Strategic Development Agency” (SDA) NGO and financed by the Austrian Development Agency, the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Due to the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, the awareness-raising campaign was held mainly through online social platforms and media.

The goal of the campaign was to build a culture of environmental protection, reasonable and safe usage of natural resources, in particular the pastures among the local population.

Within the framework of the campaign, SDA NGO’s program team provided technical assistance to the Lori, Shirak, Gegharkunik, and Tavush marzes’ enlarged communities’ relevant staff to develop texts and visual materials. During three months 36 text/photo posts, 2 video posts have been prepared and published on their municipalities’ Facebook or website pages. During the awareness-raising campaign, a drawing contest for children entitled “My Pasture” has been launched in 25 enlarged communities in Lori, Shirak, Gegharkunik, and Tavush marzes of RA. The main goal of the contest was to increase children’s interest and knowledge about pasture conservation, as well as to raise responsibility towards the environment.

During the campaign, “My Pasture” drawing contest was organized for the children of 5 enlarged communities of Lori, Shirak, Gegharkunik, and Tavush marzes to increase their interest and knowledge about the importance of pastures, as well as to instill a sense of responsibility towards the environment. During the contest, the participants presented their drawings, which expressed the children’s ideas about pastures. After summarizing the results, the winners were selected and awarded with diplomas and gifts. The other participants were given certificates of participation and encouraging gifts.

To increase the efficiency of the campaign, informative flyers on two topics – “Advantages of Sustainable Pasture Management” and “Production of Fodder Crops under climate change” have been developed and distributed to reach those people who do not use social media.

Milk Processing Facility Launch and Training in Achanan

From August 9-12, 2021 in the new milk processing facility of Syunik marz’s Achanan rural settalment a milk processing practical training was organized within the framework of the “Livestock Development in the South of Armenia” implemented by the Strategic Development Agency (SDA) and funded by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC).

In parallel with the training, equipment layout determination and testing were carried out. During the training, the employees learned to use the laboratory and manufacturing equipment, got acquainted with their maintenance and care tools. Alonge with the laboratory equipment testing, the Project technologist-consultant introduced to the staff the types of laboratory analysis, usage approaches, its importance for quality and sustainable production. During the training organized for the launch of the milk processing facility, the first pilot production of Lori cheese took place.

At the same time, with the support of the project, product branding was released under the name of Achanan Kat. The newly established Achanan Kat plans to introduce its first products to the market in the winter of 2021, after the successful completion of the pilot phase of production.

Training Course on “Cattle Dehorning and Hoof Trimming” for Veterinarians

On August 19-20, 2021, within the “Livestock Development in Armenia: South-North” project implemented by Strategic Development Agency” (SDA) NGO and financed by the Austrian Development Agency, the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, a training course on “Cattle dehorning and hoof trimming” was held in “Syunik Animal Market” to develop the capacities and skills of the veterinarians. 23 veterinarians from Shirak, Lori, Tavush and Gegharkunik marzes took part in the training.

The course material was presented in theoretical and practical parts so that the knowledge would be more comprehensible and the acquired skills would be easily reinforced. In the first half of the theoretical part, the trainer presented in detail the structure of the cattle horn, its functional significance, as well as indications, contraindications, and methods for dehorning. During the second part, the structure, diseases, and treatment of the cattle hoof were presented, and at the end, the techniques and features of the hoof trimming were presented. The theoretical part was held in the format of discussions and active Q&As.

The next day, while preserving all the rules of behavior towards animals, the participants were presented the dehorning and hoof trimming techniques on animals with the indications for interventions.

During the practical phase of the training, veterinarians took an active part and performed some interventions.

“Livestock Development in Armenia: South-North” project’s final seminar-discussion

On August 27, 2021, a final seminar-discussion of the “Livestock Development in Armenia: South-North” project implemented by Strategic Development Agency” (SDA) NGO and financed by the Austrian Development Agency, the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation took place in Tsakhkadzor. The project’s beneficiary farmers and processors, beneficiary community leaders from Tavush, Lori, Gegharkunik, and Shirak marzes, as well as SDA NGO staff members, were among the participants of the event.

During the event, the results of the project were summarized through detailed reports/presentations — all the achievements and challenges were pointed out, also the lessons learned were presented as a great contribution to achieving higher effectiveness in further projects. The speakers presented the work done during the project component by component, more specifically, the activities done towards market access development, infrastructure improvement and accessibility increase to veterinary services. There was also a discussion on the project’s environmental and gender aspects.

At the end of the event, the participants were awarded with certificates of appreciation from SDA NGO’s chairman Mr. Mkrtich Ayvazyan.