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Story by Knarine Ghazanchyan | Program Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Translated from Russian
Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things.
Through the joint program of Heifer Armenia and the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), many regions of Armenia have improved the breeds of their animals by artificial insemination (AI). The positive results the project is already producing can be clearly seen in the Syunik region.
The weather and other environmental conditions in the Syunik region are conducive for animal breeding. In Syunik, high-quality grass for animal feed is abundant, while in other communities, such as Armavir, Lori, Ararat and Shirak, securing feed is a problem.
Due to the efforts of veterinarians and animal technicians, many farmers in this region achieved excellent results. Using AI, breeders can improve the yields of cattle in terms of quality and productivity by using semen from high-quality meat and meat-dairy breeds like Angus and Simmental and from dairy breeds like Jersey and Holstein.
Artificial insemination has become one of the major components of cattle breeding in Armenia. As Suren Vardanyan, project participant and local veterinarian technician said, people here can no longer imagine animal breeding without it.
While conducting regular monitoring visits to various families, we noticed many little calves that were somehow different from the rest. The villagers jokingly call them “Calves of Suren,” as he has used his skills to help so many people. Suren lives and works in Sarnakunq Village, at the Integrated Service and Management Center (ISMC) established by the project, but he is well-known throughout the region and beyond by people who ask him for advice and support.
Planning for the year ahead, many farmers asked Suren about the possibility of inseminations from certain breeds as early as December. The conception rate in this region had high indicators, around 80 percent. During the high season, Suren inseminates up to 20 cows each day. Many turn to Suren for help and advice because they see the great results from the AI process. The relatively new farmers are inspired by the experience of their co-villagers and want to improve the breed of their animals too.
Our research showed that in this region the numbers were very good and different from those in other regions. This region has good indicators of mechanization, is well-equipped technically, and the quantity and quality of the cattle is of a very high level.
Of course, the positive results we see are directly correlated to the people's work ethic. They work extremely hard and are open-minded. It is easy to work and start new projects with such people. They freely offer their opinions, whether they agree or not, and this makes for very real cooperation.
We consider the farmers in Syunik not only reliable partners, but also the best people with whom to start our most challenging projects.