The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is seeking candidates for
Project Director of an agricultural development project, position to be located
in the Republic of Armenia. The position assumes responsibility for managing
the project in coordination with a Country Program Director, including open
office, manage local staff, coordinate selection of participating farmers,
coordinate marketing activities, manage procurement, develop association and
strengthen managerial capacity, coordinate on-farm extension and full reporting
of project progress to donors. Salary commensurate to experience. Position
available immediately. Please direct inquiries to:
Loren Hostetter, UMCOR/Armenia Field Office
10 Aigedzor Bi-Line, Yerevan, Armenia
Phone/fax: (3742) 15-18-94
UNITED METHODIST COMMITTEE ON RELIEF
THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA For FY 1996 INTEGRATED FRUIT DRYING AND MARKETING
The Republic of Armenia
To Increase the Incomes of Small Farmers in Target Areas and Improve their
Economic Security by:
Increasing the Quantity of Dried Fruit Production,
Improving the Quality of Fresh Fruit,
Improving the Quality of Packaging, and
Expanding the Market Range of Armenian Dried Fruit.
Safe the Children/Armenia Field Office and US Agency for International
Development, October 30, 1995
Collaborating Agencies: Volunteers in Cooperative Assistance
US Peace Corp, International Executive Service Corp.
ARMENIA INTEGRATED FRUIT DRYING AND MARKETING PROJECT
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has aquired a subgrant under
SCF cooperative agreement #CCN-0001-A-00-3132-00 to implement an Integrated
Fruit Drying and Marketing project in the Republic of Armenia. The project will
develop a Fruit Growers Association, construct 30 solar fruit dryers, export
dried fruit to viable CIS markets, provide technical assistance to rehabilitate
orchards, and supply on-farm inputs.
The agriculture sector in Armenia has all but collapsed in the transition from
state controlled markets to private agriculture leaving an inefficient and
largely irrational sector. Overall production has decreased since 1988. In
fruit production, a sector in which Armenia has a comparative advantage,
farmers have little experience in free market economics and been unable to
obtain sufficient transport, storage, and processing, resulting in an market
for fruit which fluctuates widely at different times of the growing season. As
a result, much of the fruit crop is not harvested or farmers opt to cultivate
wheat, which is more marketable. The fruit farmers are experiencing decreased
disposable income and Armenia is losing a potential source of export revenues.
It is anticipated that the proposed project will increase income for small
farmers, providing them with greater economic security, and will promote the
Armenian fruit exports. These goals will be achieved through assistance in the
construction of low-input solar dryers, establishment of a homogenous standard
through sorting and packaging, and developing possible export outlets within
the CIS, promotion of a fruit dryers association, and in general improving the
quality of fresh produce. Approximately 2,500 rural farmers will receive
direct assistance, benefiting 12,500 persons when considering the increased
household income for an average of 5 per household. In implementing this
project, UMCOR will draw extensively upon the technical expertise of Volunteers
in Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), Peace Corps volunteers, and the International
Executive Service Corps (IESC).
Armenian fruit growers face a number of constraints in production, transport,
storage, and marketing of fruit, which prevent the fruit sector from producing
at it's potential quality and quantity. Due to these constraints, many fruit
growers are turning away from fruit processing toward more marketable wheat
production or other crops. Over 60 percent of farmers surveyed in villages in
the Ararat valley planned on reducing their orchards because they could not
properly maintain them either due to lack of knowledge, inability to afford, or
unavailability of inputs.
1) Fruit growers have little if any marketing experience and have only a
poorly developed market available. Growers literally produce, pick, and
transport their produce in whatever means available to city market stands. The
result is inefficient production and burgeoning glut by the peak of the harvest
season. In some regions as much as 50 percent of the crop is not even brought
in from the fields.
2) Fruit growers generally follow poor farming practices and are unable to
access technical assistance, farm inputs and equipment, and improved genetic
stock. As stated in the background section, many persons who received land
during privatization were unprepared for diversified activities essential for
free-market agriculture. Farmers must determine markets, analyze cost vs.
benefits of various alternative production. Even those who were employed by
state run farms were specialized in a narrow range of duties, and are
unfamiliar with the demands of free market analysis. Nor are they necessarily
competent in implementing efficient farming technologies.
3) There exist only few, minimally functioning fruit processing facilities
which add value and preserve the quality of fruit acceptable for consumption.
The two best facilities operate at 4 and 6 percent of their former production
capacity. The facilities are inefficient and ultimately suffer from a stagnant
local market, a paralyzing blockade, and an energy crisis affecting
transportation, processing, and storage of fruit. Unable to shift to a market
economy, fruit processing lacked the funds for fruit purchases and instead gave
the farmers promissory notes. With no payment received, farmers have canceled
contracts with canneries and stopped selling their produce to processors.
Since unprocessed fruits are particularly vulnerable to less than optimal
transport and storage conditions, the current poor handling of fruit in Armenia
has resulted in substantial post-harvest losses. As a result, the period of
which fruits are available to markets are short, lending toward a supply glut
and prices bottoming out. Locally grown apricots for example are available
between mid-June to mid July. Prices initially are approximately US $2.00 per
kg during week one, then drop by week three to around US $.10 per kg.
The result is that farmers received little compensation over the last few years
except for their own efforts in undeveloped retail markets, and have little
resources left to maintain, let alone revitalize their orchards. Fruit
production has deteriorated in the quality of produce and . Moreover, many
farmers began to remove orchards to make room for wheat, which realized
relatively quick cash flows.
4) Armenia is currently experiencing a crippling blockade to most of its
more lucrative markets; that of Russia and other CIS countries. The effects of
the blockade not only hamper transport, processing, and storage through lack of
fuel and electricity, but are also limiting exports.
Currently, the risks are too high for fruit growers to enter into unknown
export markets, and the threshold volume is too high for farmers to reach
sufficient quantities desired by foreign buyers. With little cash and no viable
agricultural institutions promoting cooperation, lucrative export markets are
unattainable. The quality of Armenian dried fruit is not competitive with
imported premium products, nor is it competitive in foreign markets. Foreign
grown dried fruits from such places as Turkey, Greece, and Iran have made
in-roads in Armenia with higher quality and better packaged products. With the
inevitable growth of supply in the local market there will be increasing
pressure to seek foreign markets, where Armenian fruit is currently not
In summary, the problems described above have crippled the economies of some of
the most productive agricultural regions of Armenia, forcing many farmers to
depend on wheat for incomes rather than a more diverse crop.
The problem of little disposable income has had a negative effect on many
indicators of the quality of life. Evidence from UMCOR's previous medical
programs in Armenia suggests that many households have no income for obtaining
essential inputs for maintaining health (pharmaceuticals) and insufficient
resources for pursuing education. Rural populations have 30 percent less
disposable income than their urban counterparts. According to Save the Children
survey data, half of all rural families are poor. The main advantage the rural
populations have is a greater supplication of nutritional requirements.
The key to resolving the current humanitarian crisis lies in economic
revitalization, job creation and sustainable development envisioned in this
project. UMCOR believes that targeting the agriculture sector will do more to
improve food security, job creation and capital formation that anything else an
NGO can do at this time. Particular emphasis is on the excess fruit production
currently not marketed.
Solar dryers present the most opportune means for increasing the value of
post-harvest fruit, while taking advantage of an inexpensive energy source.
This is particularly advantageous in the current Armenian context with its
deficiency in other energy sources. Furthermore, dehydration of fruit in
exporting produce is strategic in minimizing weight and volume. Currently,
surface transportation is time-consuming and unreliable. Air freight, while
somewhat costly, presents the best opportunity for exporting agricultural