Story and Photos by Aram Petrosyan | Project Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Translated by Liana Hayrapetyan | Communication and PR Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Hovhannes "Hovik" Arzumanyan is an active member of the Shaghat community in the Syunik region of Armenia and head of the Milk Producers Consuming Cooperative.
Hovik met and fell in love with his wife Roza while studying at the Economic University of Armenia. After returning to Shaghat, the couple married and started a happy family. Hovik and Roza have a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Shushanik. Hovik says the "boss" in their family is his father, 74-year-old Grandpa Sashik, who enjoys the love and respect of the people of Shaghat. Grandpa Sashik is now retired, but years ago he was known as a very successful farmer in their village.
"From 2002 to 2008 I was the mayor in our village," Hovik said. "In those years I did everything possible to foster the development of my native land. It was during these years when the farmers in Shaghat faced difficulties with the sales and processing of milk. It was at that time when I established the cooperative as an alternative solution to these problems and it worked! The project implemented by Heifer Armenia and Ashtarak Kat CJSC is very successful in our village."
According to Hovik, the project aims to improve feed, livestock breeding, and increase animal productivity. In the spring of 2012, 30 families received quality seeds of technical crops as well as relevant trainings.
Favorable weather conditions produced a more successful harvest than farmers were expecting. They were able to improve the feed base of the animals and hold a Passing on the Gift® (POG) ceremony ahead of schedule, which welcomed 11 new families into the project.
Over a four month period, 150 cows belonging to 73 families were artificially inseminated with Holstein and Jersey breeds, and many of the cows have already given birth. Villagers believed more in the project as they witnessed its success.
"The partnership of Heifer and Ashtarak Kat is very trustworthy," Hovik said enthusiastically. "The people working on this partnership project are doing their best to alleviate the burden of farmers in our village via increase of feed base and improvement of the animal breed and linking farmers to the dairy value chain. Day by day more and more families want to be engaged in the project to have their animals' breed improved. They know that a better breed animal will increase their income."
Hovik's family possesses 12 cows and eight calves, two which were born as a result of artificial insemination. Roza helps him milk the cows and process the milk.
Currently, the cooperative owns a milk cooling unit and was provided with plastic milk tanks for collection, milk analyzing equipment, a pump and water heater. This equipment makes the milk collecting process easier and more efficient.
For many years, Hovik has cared for the future of Shaghat's people as its mayor. Now, he shares his knowledge and skills from successful farming experiences. He has found that Sharing and Caring, one of Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, not only works for his family, but for his whole community.