A multi-million dollar project for rural revitalization in Armenia is picking up speed with the distribution of several hay balers to farmers' cooperatives this month. The balers provided by Heifer International will allow farmers to collect and store hay from their land to keep their livestock better fed.
The CARMAC (Community Agriculture Resource Management and Competitiveness) project was undertaken by the government of Armenia with Heifer and the World Bank. It will help small family farms survive and thrive, and will resverse some longstanding environmental damage in overgrazed areas.
Armenia country director Anahit Ghazanchyan hopes the project will help keep families together. As she explains here with an Armenian official, unemployment in rural areas has driven Armenian men to emigrate. The project could give these men the chance to stay in their homeland.
By the end of the project, about 200 pieces of agricultural equipment are expected to be placed within 55 rural communities in Armenia. The availability of modern equipment, along with more careful use of pastures, will boost overall productivity and efficiency of small livestock farms.
Gagik Khachatryan, who heads the project for the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, said that without Heifers contribution, it would have been impossible to ensure rural community engagement and successfully realize the CARMAC project. Heifer Armenia has worked with more than 8,000 Armenian families in the past 11 years, building up familiy farms with gifts of trees, cattle, chickens, and other resources.