7 May 2013
A monitoring visit was conducted in the 7 ha forest which was established in Chambarak in 2012. The project was realised at the initiative of the "Council of Deceased Soldiers' Mothers and Wives" local NGO and Shen NGO and funded by the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme. The delegation comprised of the representatives of the donor organisation expressed its satisfaction with the successful implementation and sustainability of the project. Today we can state with confidence that in a few years there will be a wonderful forest of 7 hectares in Chambarak.
Updated on 13 May, 2013
Our ultimate goal is to give the opportunity of sustainable development to the rural community population by involving them in organic agriculture and promote environmental consciousness by promoting green public areas.
Use of bumblebees in organic orchards
In 2013 Shen's Extension group decided to use bumblebees to increase the effectiveness of pollination in organic orchards. This method is practised world-wide, whereas its use in Armenia is still limited.
TRIPOL is an effective product ensuring excellent pollination of a number of fruit and vegetable crops, both indoors and outdoors. The benefits of Innovative natural pollination for the user are as follows:
saving labour costs,
improvement of crop quality,
increase of productivity,
pollination less dependent on weather conditions and native pollinators,
reduction of pollen quantity in glasshouse improves working environment,
bumblebees are compatible with honeybees.
Organic Agriculture in Armenia
Shen is a pioneer in introducing organic agriculture practices in Armenia aiming at creation of a new sustainable and environmentally friendly income source for Armenian rural households. Starting from 2000 till 2012 Shen with financial and thematic support of HEKS-EPER (Switzerland) as a main partner was promoting the development of organic agriculture by disseminating information on organic agriculture cultivation methods among farmer groups and individual farmers. This endeavour was a part of EPER regional programme in South Caucasus countries. It had been done through developing free advisory services to farmers as well as raising awareness on organic fruits among the local consumers. During these years other Shen's partners, namely Chene-France, EED (Germany), ICCO (the Netherlands), UNDP GEF, Regional Council of Ile-de-France co-funded this project too.
The main objectives of the project goal were:
initiating organic extension group;
establishing private local organic certification body;
introducing the new markets of the organic agricultural inputs to the farmers,
involving both export and local markets channels,
lobbying and advocacy activities.
Upon passed 12 years Shen can assume that all mentioned objectives are principally met and the organic food sector is evolving in Armenia. Indeed the further development of the sector is taken over by Armenian businesses that we are witnessing now. The following report presents the development trends of the sector (Milestones of Organic Agriculture in Armenia, 2013 ).
Demonstrative educational center of organic agriculture
The project started with the means provided by Small grants program of UN Global Environmental Fund, EED and Shen-France in 2012. The Demonstrative Educational Center of organic agriculture will introduce and test organic and environmentally friendly cultivation methods and effective usage of technologies and equipment of natural resources. The fundamental principles of organic agriculture - biodiversity preservance, effective usage of soil, water and air, utilisation of solar energy will be practised in the Center. The goal of the educational center is to create an advisory center equiped with new technologies for the farmers of Armenia, where seminars and hands-on trainings will be organized.
In 2011 an idle plot of 7 ha passed soil analysis aimed at establishment of the center in Akunq community of Kotayq marz. The area was being used by the community neither for agricultural, nor for industrial purposes. The area was covered with garbage and stones accumulated as a result of melioration during the soviet period. The future center was fenced, scattered stones were removed and garbage was disposed.
Biodiversity protection in Dprabak
The project presented to the UN Global Ecological Fund (GEF) was approved by the National Comity of GEF SGP on March 2010. There are several problems in the Dprabak community of Chambarak region that are common to the region and for the mountainous areas of the RA. Those problems are the lack of soil resources and the ineffective usage of the letter, landslides, high number of poor families. Shen NGO sees the solution of the problem in the restoration of degraded and uncultivated land, in the correct usage of natural resources, as well as biodiversity protection.
For the above mentioned reason 4 ha organic orchard was established in Dprabak. More than 1350 trees of apple, pear, plum and walnut were planted with active involvement of the whole community. An irrigation system that was an innovation for the community was established. A "Dprabak aygi" Foundation was registered to operate the orchard. The solar drier established in the orchard will allow community members to dry the fruits from the orchard as well as from their homesteads. A nice training center was built in the orchard that will be utilised by the Foundation for the field seminars, meeting-discussions and other educational gatherings.
Introduction of organic cultivation methods and irrigation with hydrants show the community members the right direction for effective land management and usage of natural resources to avert further soil erosion. Dprabak community orchard - the first organic initiative in Chambarak, will result in sustainable income and new employment opportunities for the farmers of the region.
Severe energy crisis caused huge damage to the environment and particularly to the forests. In 2002 Shen produced the documentary "Armenian forests" on critical condition of the forests, which was broadcasted by National TV channel. In 2006 Shen launched a new initiative with the goal to support the beneficiary communities to become clean and green. In the frame of our "Green communities" project in 2010 Shen donated 1,880 ornamental trees from its nursery to the villages in Kotayk, Aragatsotn and Gegharkunik marzes. Another 6,000 oak seedlings were donated to the Hrazdan branch "Armforest" State Company.
In 2012 over 4000 young trees were donated to local NGO's of Chambarak region who, with the support of the whole population established a forest on 6 hectare area in the vicinity of Chambarak Town. UN GEF was the major partner in this initiative.
One of the objectives of "Green communities" project is to plant trees on the roadsides, in the nearby areas of schools, kindergartens, community and art centers. According to the contracts signed with the communities, the village municipalities and Community Action Groups are obliged to protect and nurse the trees. Shen is following the progress of the project of greening through its field officies.
Aragats, Davtashen, Katnaghbyur, Tsaghkahovit, and Ashnak villages of Aragatsotn marz, Sardarapat, Arteni, Zarindja of Armavir marz, Pampak of Gegharkunik marz, Zovk and Mrgashen of Kotayk marz were provided with 5,820 poplar, maple, oak, rose-hip and ash trees for the greening of community centers, school yards and side roads. As the annual monitoring shows most of the trees are properly taken care of, and the communities become more attractive.
In 2010 Shen NGO diasporan partner - the Yalkezian Foundation (Canada) took a decision to take part in these endeavours. With the support of the Foundation trees were provided to Nor Yedesia (1,000 poplars and 450 ash trees), Hartavan (100 poplars and 400 ash trees) and Apnagyugh (300 poplars and 300 ash trees) communities in 2011- 2012. In all the mentioned communities the necessary construction and renovation of irrigation networks were carried out.
The second objective of the "Green Communities" project is to facilitate the cleaning of the villages and further organization of sustainable garbage removal. The first success was recorded in Berdavan of Tavush marz and Pambak of Gegharkunik marz. During the 2011-2012 the villages Vardablur, Hartavan, Apnagyugh, Katnaghbyur, Geghadzor and Shenik provided with community land for establishing landfills with the help of the project. The first landfills were established with the direct involvement of CAGs, schoolchildren and community members, which has become a regular activity.
The CAG leader receives the ash tree saplings that should be planted in the community center. The youth is also involved in the greening activities.
A complementary activity of this project was the introduction of biohumus production which, besides its direct benefits, helps to keep the village roads clean. In the Hartavan and Apnagyugh communities where people are engaged in animal husbandry, Shen organic agriculture extention group organized a training on the production of humus and provided the interested community members with the necessary amount of Californian red worms. After 6 months Shen monitoring group found out that some community members in Apnagyugh community started to fertilize their apple orchards, and the number of humus piles grew.