“Yerkink” NGO, “Meghvik” NGO, “Gorovank” NGO
The Shirak Rural Development Project will improve the socio-economic situation of the Tsaghkut, Meghrashat and Mets Sariar villages, by providing 60 families 60 heifers, 30 families 150 beehives, artificial insemination inputs for cattle, and opportunities for local youth to participate in Heifer Armenia sponsored youth clubs. The decision to implement a second phase of this project was made after a needs assessment showed an emerging need for Heifer intervention in these communities. The communities feel that a replication of the first phase of the project, which was implemented in the nearby villages of Gumri, Mets Sariar, Meghtashat, and Tsaghkut, would be the best strategy to reduce the region’s level of poverty and unemployment, and to prevent emigration from the region. In addition to the project components of the first phase, the breed improvement component (AI) was added to the original project design. The project will be composed of the following components: cattle breeding, artificial insemination (to improve the local cattle breed), beekeeping and rural youth development. In the fall of 2007, sixty families in the villages of Tsaghkut, Meghrashat and Mets Sariar will establish their own family farms upon receipt of 60 heifers (1 cow per family). In 2010, the original families will pass on 60 heifers to 60 new families in the same communities. All the families will be trained in cattle breeding and animal husbandry, farm management, and dairy production and marketing. In the fall of 2007, the project holders will formally apply to CARD (USDA funded Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development) for a local breed genetic improvement grant. (As of October 2007, a preliminary agreement for grant inputs was already reached between Heifer Armenia management and CARD.) The grant will be important to the project, as artificial insemination (AI) is a priority of all the project participants. The grant will include high quality semen (from Brown Swiss and Jersey, imported from the U.S.), supplies for insemination. CARD will provide trainings to community veterinarians and project participant families. In the spring of 2008, all the animals will be artificially inseminated. The genetic improvement will help the families to receive crossbreds, with higher productivity (hybrid vigor). The AI component of this project will ultimately contribute to the improvement of genetic diversity in the region. In the spring of 2008, thirty families will receive 150 beehives (5 beehives per each family). In the spring of 2010, the original families will pass on 150 beehives to 30 new families in the same communities. All the participants will be trained in beekeeping, honey production and marketing. Three youth clubs will be established in the target communities to work 180 children of Heifer beneficiaries, as well as other school children of the communities. The youth cubs will conduct extracurricular trainings in the following program areas: agriculture, ecology, health and civic education. Additionally, fifteen out of 90 project participants from the three communities (five in each community out of 30) will be selected following the criteria for youth club local trainers. Along with agricultural inputs, they will receive TOT (training of trainers) on vocational trainings facilitation skills, as well as trainings in the designated program areas. The project will also provide stationery, training materials and supplies to the young trainers to be used in the extracurricular trainings in Youth Clubs. Through personal experience, the club members will be able to propose ways of problem solving related to community development, including economics, health, education and social life. Moreover, the rural youth will be better positioned and prepared to enter adulthood in an independent Armenia.