19 february, 2015
For the first time the organic certified Armenian products produced with Shen assistance had been presented at the 22nd International Trade Fair for Food and Beverages ProdExpo 2015. Also for the first time a special section on organic food were organized at ProdExpo 2015. Totally 9 organic food producers with 18 products: herbal teas, dried fruit, juices, fresh fruit, honey and the like were presented at Shen umbrella booth.
Though organic food market recently has started developing in Russia the consumer interest towards our products appeared to be significant. Thus based on acquired contacts during Prodexpo 2015, Shen plans to facilitate establishment of new commercial links between wholesale buyers in the Russian markets and Armenian organic food producers.
Updated on 26 february, 2015
Horticulture development project in Gegharkunik marz
In February 2013 Shen launched a new rural development project financed by EPER, our long-term partner from Switzerland. The project targets 6 villages of Gegharkunik marz: Lusakunq, Akunq, Tsovak, Tsapatagh, Karchaghbyur, and Khachaghbyur. The strategy includes application of well tested rural development methods in combination with the recently adopted M4P approach in order to improve the livelihood of the rural population of beneficiary communities.
The project aims at increasing the incomes of apple, pear, plum grower households in Gegharkunik marz through improving the quality and increasing volume of yield as well as through facilitating market links in existing value chains. Through the application of M4P fundamental principles-systemic action, sustainable change, large-scale impact and facilitative role, the project will reach long term sustainable impact.
2014 Project results
During 2014 agricultural year due to applied M4P methodology and selected tools the project achieved certain sustainable results, viz:
Each lead farmer has provided occasional advice to some 33-35 peer farmers in average that totals to at least 650 farmers. That figure equals to 32% of all households of 6 target communities. Besides a number of farmers (non-lead farmers) paid visits to demo orchards where they could see the difference between their «traditionally» and lead farmer's «professionally» maintained orchards. Now our beneficiary demonstration farms have no problem at selling the pear because due to properly implemented pruning and other farming techniques at their orchards they got big and healthy fruits.
There is plenty room for expansion of orchards in all project villages, where the conditions (soil, weather conditions) for development of horticulture are favourable. Annual monitoring results showed that in 2013-2014 32% of farmers involved in fruit cultivation planted at least 10 saplings each and half of those saplings was pear.
Almost half of current apple and pear trees in the region are approaching the peak of its maturity - 20-30 years age, therefore many farmers apparently due to project efforts started to rejuvenate their homestead orchards.
Despite unfavourable agricultural year (because of total early spring hails and local frost-bite) almost all harvest of pear (some other fruits as well) was procured by the buyers. It speaks on stable demand in the local market even for 2nd and 3rd grade fruit.
Sizeable part (68%) of 2nd grade pear is procured for production of dried fruit.
Because of poor harvest there was misbalance between supply and demand so each farmer had been contacted by several buyers. Consequently, at least our 20 lead farmers sold their pear to different buyers.
One can report on increase of pear share in the total household income in 2014 compared to that in 2013. Although the absolute percentage for 2014 is not that high (5%) but considering that in 2013 the interviewed farmers reported the share of horticulture (that includes also several other fruits too) at 3% it could be assumed that the same index for 2014 should be higher than 5%.
Starting from 2015 the Project launches its 3-year extension second phase where instead of 6 villages 2 more communities will be involved.
Seminars and field days
Training on pruning
Visiting the tradefair
Horticulture development project in Koti-Voskevan-Baghanis community cluster
Starting from 2012 Yalkezian Foundation in collaboration with Shen NGO initiated an integrated project for Koti, Voskevan and Baghanis villages primarily aiming at rehabilitation of irrigation at homestead orchards and enhancing agricultural capacities of the local peasants. The core ideology of the project was to attain maximum efficiency of to-be spent efforts, time and money. For that purpose the consortium selected a relatively new and practically approved methodology being applied in development projects worldwide – Making Markets Work for Poor (M4P), as well as already mainstream Integrated Community Development methodologies and relevant tools. Implementation of this project via enforcing these two approaches would yield in additional incomes for the locals from their more intensively and efficiently cultivated orchards as well as improvement and diversification of the social life in Koti, Voskevan and Baghanis.
2014 Project results
In brief, the main sustainable results achieved in 2004 in Koti, Voskevan and Baghanis villages are:
Farmers bought and planted more than 1,500 fruit tree saplings.
Some 70-75% of Koti and Voskevan households grow a whole range of high quality vegetables on their homesteads that except internal (in-home) consumption have been sold in their communities.
The project efficiency is apparent judging from the number nicely cultivated gardens in the target villages: this comes to prove the desire and commitment on behalf the locals to get reengaged in high value agriculture and particularly horticulture activities.
According to calculations done by Shen the net income from the production of vegetable in 2014 comprised 200,000 AMD per 1000 m2 area annually that is higher by 40% compared to that for the previous year.
An agricultural input supply small store is operating now in Koti where locals can buy various pesticides and basic agricultural tools. Moreover, the project facilitated establishment of commercial links between the local store and one of biggest input stores in Armenia, Hrashq Aygi. This cooperation ensure smoother start-up operation (consignment transactions) for such a small business on one hand, and on the other hand, guarantee the high quality of sold pesticides. Now not only buyers from Koti but also those from adjacent villages visit this store and buy necessary products instead of buying them, for instance, in Ijevan or Yerevan input stores.
Other donors excited with the results of Shen-Yalkezian project in the mentioned communities decided to bring their contribution in the wellbeing of the local farmers. Particularly:
French Armenian benefactor, Shen France member, Hrayr Hrachian had financed the partial renovation, furnishing and heating of Koti kindergarten where 54 children attending today. All running costs of kindergarten are borne equally by the community budget and kids parents
Orange Armenia set up a computer center in Voskevan that provides broadband internet services.
One of the important achievements in Koti, is newly constructed 14 greenhouses partly financed by UNDP and SMEDNC whereas in line with M4P approach individual farmers invested AMD 400,000, a low interest loan.
In 2014 a businessman from Slovenia set up a workshop producing spirits made from locally grown fruit in Voskevan. Some 25 local workforces is planned to get engaged in that production.
Shen is glad to announce the launch of a training programme on Making Markets Work for Poor (M4P) approach for Armenian NGOs and development organizations. Free of charge training programme will give a comprehensive introduction of the approach and will take the participants through the main concept which has been applied in a number of Armenian rural development projects.
Particularly the participants will learn:
how the M4P sets out a strategic framework,
what steps it undertakes to understand market systems and it's constraints/opportunities,
how sustainability analysis should be executed to ensure large scale and long term changes in markets and livelihoods of poor people
how to facilitate interventions to develop market systems for the sake of poor farmers
what is the M&E system in place to capture changes at both market and livelihood level
The training curriculum will be tailored according to the needs of participants (What is M4P?). For specific dates and place of training sessions follow for our NEWS.
The First M4P Training
From the 11th to the 15th February of 2013 the first M4P training took place at the Shen office with participation of 8 representatives of local NGOs - Yalkezian Foundation, UMCOR, COAF and Shen. The training was conducted by Arthur Hayrapetyan- an M4M expert, who has an extensive experience in providing such trainings and managing various M4P projects in Armenia.
The participants were exposed to the main principals of the M4M approach, particularly a special focus was given to discuss how the local projects can become more sustainable. Participants were generally happy with the training and expressed willingness to apply some of the approaches and tools gained during the training in their development projects.
Markets for Meghri Project (M4M)
The Markets for Meghri Project (M4M) implemented jointly by Shen NGO and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation came to an end in November 30, 2012.
According to an evaluation, carried out to assess the main achievements and drawbacks of the project, the M4M brought about "a positive and to some extent a lasting impact in Megri region"
. Another statement stresses "Despite the short implementation period, M4M project undoubtedly made some significant changes in the region, particularly towards increasing productivity of orchards and contributing to income generation of the farmers"
. Value chains of fig, persimmon and pomegranate are strengthened providing access of farmers to supermarkets and fruit markets in Yerevan. Hence, the main goal of M4M is achieved - incomes of farmers have increased by 15% and the productivity has raised by 24%.
Shen NGO, having already a positive experience in applying a facilitation approach, will actively seek new funds to launch other market development programmes in Armenia. Some project proposals with application of market development approaches have already been designed and presented to donors.
Production of saplings and new orchards
Intensive horticulture in Meghri region
Post-harvesting practices and processing of Meghri fruits
Meghri fruits in Yerevan supermarkets