Thanks to large family members’ joint efforts the common goal became a reality

Vayots Dzor marz’s Yelpin settlement would not be any different from other settlements in the region and in Armenia if a unique cheese factory had not been established there.

“Yerpin” agricultural cooperative that presents its products in the market under the “ArtCheese” brand started cheese production in 2016 with the involvement of 3 employees. One of the founders of the cooperative, Arthur Nazaryan, has taken over the management of the cheese factory, and the other members of the cooperative are involved in the processes of milk production and product processing. Over the years, the number of employees has increased to ten. The factory collects milk from the marz’s farmers and it is a stable source of income for about 35 farms.

With the support of the “Livestock Development in the South of Armenia” project implemented by the Strategic Development Agency NGO, the employees of the cooperative participated in a number of professional trainings, improved their milk production and processing knowledge, received necessary professional advice, and applied the gained skills and knowledge in their work. In recent years, with the support of the project, the factory has been reconstructed, bringing it in line with international food production standards and increasing production capacity. As a result, the quality of the product has improved, as well as the production and promotion of new products have been established.

“By combining all the efforts of the family members, the common goal of achieving greater recognition and consumption becomes much more realistic. The guarantee of our sustainable development and achievements is the consistent approach and continuous investments in the expansion of capacities, improvement of milk collection, production, marketing processes. We did not even think that we could start producing high-value cheeses when we founded the cooperative and used to produce only traditional types of cheese – Lori, Chanakh . Thanks to cooperation with the “Livestock Development in the South of Armenia” project and a number of other projects,  we also started producing high-quality cheeses,” -says Arthur Nazaryan.

Already in 2017, parmesan and gouda cheeses were produced and put on trial sale, and due to the demand, their production volumes are increasing year by year. Today the cooperative produces 14 types of cheese, not only for the Armenian market but also for the Russian Federation and the United States.

“As a result of our work, many families from Yelpin and neighboring communities  are already taking confident steps towards the development of livestock development knowing that in the future they will not have a problem with the sale of milk.” Production development plans are not limited to this, we also plan to increase production volumes, the number of sale points representing the company, and to start production of new lactic acid products (yogurt, tan, sour cream)”,– sums up Arthur Nazaryan.

Successful cooperation and mutual respect

Lead farmer Arthur Bekchyan and his family are based in Lori region’s Margahovit village where they work in the livestock industry. Arthur is a builder by profession, after working abroad for several years, he decided to move to his homeland and get involved in the livestock sector.

When he came back to Armenia in 2017, Arthur decided to become a registered entrepreneur to be able to buy and sell cattle appropriately. After familiarizing with the Project «Livestock development in Armenia: South and North», he decided to become a beneficiary.

After joining the Project, he was able to ameliorate the care conditions of the animals, to buy a feeder, in order to turn wet and dry animal feeds into a homogeneous mass, to organize the feeding of animals more efficiently. From the new veterinarian point established by the Project, the farmer is able to receive the necessary medecins and consultations, which will result to an increase of quality of veterinarian services.

As a result of the technical support of the project, the farmer also took some corrective steps to save the environmental and natural resources. A solar water heater has already been installed to save electricity. Thanks to the project interventions, a silage pit was built for high-value fodder crops production which allows the preparation of silage during the vegetation period, which is used to organize the feeding of animals with silage during the winter-nursery period.

«The Project has been a great achievement for my family and business. Diligence, patriotism and devotion together have yielded positive results. My future plans are related to meat production. I will cooperate with the Vanadzor slaughterhouse in accordance with the rules of food safety in order to carry out proper activity of meat production» – mentioned the lead farmer.

«Diligence as a boost to prosperity»

Dustrik Galstyan, a 51-year-old farmer, lives in the settlement of Artavan of Zaritap community, Vayots Dzor region, with her son and sister-in-law. Dustrik never cease to develop and improve herself despite her many responsibilites within her family.

Within the framework of the project implemented by the Strategic Development Agency NGO, Dustrik, along with other women, received professional consultations, which helped her improve her knowledge on farm management.

With the support of the program, she participated in various agricultural food festivals, which provided an opportunity to not only generate additional income, but also to gain trust, information and exchange experience.

«I have always been involved in cattle breeding as a way of helping my husband. And now thanks to the workshops, I have gained the knowedge necessary and apply 80% of the consultations to the procedures. I even do monthly calculations, I calculate expenses and incomes, I take notes. Before participating in the program, I had 12 cattle, of which 5 were dairy cows, today I have increased that number to 22, of which 10 are dairy cows,” says Dustrik.

«Only diligence and aspiration bring results. If you increase the number of cattle, you automatically increase the number of profit. As a result of my work, my family’s budget increased, I was able to host a big wedding for my daughters. Courage is half the battle, I say from my experience, because thanks to my courage I was able to achieve many challenges  and I will still achieve them. In addition to cattle breeding, I am engaged in agro-tourism, through which I introduce my guests to rural life and traditions.

Livestock is an integral part of tourism, the tourists that I host usually participate in the milking process, animal feeding and baking. They appreciate the opportunity to use traditional rural products».

Passion is the Key to Success

The Kurghinyan family of 5 lives in Shirak marze’s Krasar village. The family is mainly involved in the livestock sector, never having the need to leave the country and work abroad. The youngsters of the family, after graduating school, have started helping their parents in the farm.

The family has been working in cattle breeding for a while. During the first period, the family owned 6 cows, however after the fall of the Soviet Union, they decided to increase the number of livestock.

«We renovated my husband’s grandfather’s old barns, and we increased the number of livestock. We brought a number of livestock and after getting informed about the Project we decided to apply, as we met the requirements» – Hasmik told.

The family gives the milk produced in the farm to Amasia cheese factory. It is essential to mention, that Amasia cheese factory is a beneficiary to the Project «Livestock Development in Armenia: South-North», for this exact reason, the latter has invited the family to a number of meetings. «We appreciated the fact that the Project supports farmers. We are also aware, that within the framework of the Project, a number of veterinary points were created in different communities. The establishment of veterinary points ameliorated the access to quality veterinary services, the veterinarian is now more accessible and the necessary medicine is more affordable»

Mrs Kurghinyan’s husband, on several occasions, has participated to the educational workshops organized by SDA NGO. Improvement of infrastructure (improvement of pastures, installation of troughs) enabled more success in the livestock sector. The family’s plans include the organization of an automated manure removal system. Taking advantage of the effectiveness of the training, the family even expressed a desire to grow the farm. In Hasmik’s words: «If you do any work with passion, you will definitely succeed. If you do it reluctantly then, you will not succeed in that work».

Khndzorut: The young veterinarian – a source of inspiration

In Khndzorut village of Vayots Dzor the only veterinarian is 29-year-old Sevada. Sevada chose his profession following the advice of the previous veterinarian. Unlike his peers, Sevada has no dreams to move to a city.

On the other side, he is sure, his profession is useful when you live in a village. The young specialist still aims to improve his skills and now he takes distance learning courses at Sisian Agricultural University.

Khndzorut is one of the “new” villages that joined the “Livestock Development in the South of Armenia” project implemented by the Strategic Development Agency (SDA) and funded by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) in 2015.

Establishment of a veterinary service point and improving farmers’ access to veterinary and artificial insemination services was amongst the initiatives supported by the project.

Before joining the project, the activities of Sevada Hmayakyan were limited to state order vaccination services only. He had no veterinary equipment and tools, there was no medicine in the village and he was never paid for his work. Moreover, the nearest point to buy medicine was in Vayk town and it could take a couple of hours to get the medicine from there. Therefore, the loss of cattle was a common issue in their village.

In November 2015 a veterinary service point (VSP), equipped with all necessary instruments, medicine, and inputs, was opened in Khndzorut village. The young specialist took part in several trainings organized by the Project during which he improved his skills and also learned to do Artificial Insemination of the cattle.

Today the veterinary point has become a small business for Sevada, he is organizing the supply of medicine and inputs and farmers have started paying not for the medicine but for the service.

Sevada strongly believes that there is no point to leave the village if one has a beloved job. He hopes that Khndzorut veterinary point will be the most famous in the region and he will be the most demanded veterinarian not only in Khndzorut but also in neighboring villages.