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Story by Sergey Meloyan | CARMAC Project Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Photos courtesy of Heifer Armenia
Berdashen is a mountainous community in the Shirak region that borders Georgia and is included in the World Bank and Republic of Armenia’s joint effort, the Community Agricultural Resource Management and Competitiveness (CARMAC) project. Heifer Armenia contributes to this project and supports targeted communities with capacity-building measures involving technical assistance and cost-sharing for the purchase of agricultural equipment.
Around 60 families, or 298 people, live in Berdashen. Most are originally from the Georgian Poga community, and the name of their cooperative is Poga.
The cooperative has 850 heads of large cattle, 504 of which are cows. To organize its activities, the cooperative rented almost 2,500 acres of pasture from the community. With support from Heifer Armenia, Poga received one MTZ Tractor and a bailer. Heifer’s support is much appreciated by community members. Without it, they simply would not have been able to raise the sum required from the cooperative. The equipment provided to them was extremely important for the community, as cattle breeding is the main income source for the locals. Weather conditions are extremely unfavorable for any type of horticulture.
The cooperative, led by Yervand Akhtskhetsyan, aims to raise funds for acquiring another MTZ 82.1 tractor, a bailer, a sower, a cultivator, two plows and two grasscutting machines. Thanks to its hardworking members, the cooperative completed its Passing on the Gift® obligations eight months earlier than required. With skilled engineer and veterinarian Gevorg Hovhannisyan on staff, the community anticipates organizing short-term classes for co-op members to exchange knowledge and experiences. Everyone works hard to support the co-op in his or her own way, and all community members consider themselves part of the cooperative.
Poga has played a huge role in changing the old thinking and behavior in the community. People are becoming more eager to solve mutual problems and issues through joint efforts. They work to support each other and try hard to be useful for the community as a whole.
Even though some factors that remain out of human control, such as the previous year's drought that reduced yields impacted the cooperative's results, community members remain very positive and don't let these obstacles ruin their hope for a better future.
“When we are together and try hard to develop ourselves and build our capacities, we can reach the best results,” said member Gevorg Hovhannisyan. “That is why I pay particular attention to continued training of co-op members that will help us strengthen the group as a whole and enable us to achieve better results.”