Story and Photos by Anna Arakelyan | Business Education Expert | Development Principles NGO
Translated by Liana Hayrapetyan | Communication and PR Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Livestock farming, beekeeping, growing fruits and vegetables, sewing linen, and pastry cooking are among the businesses run by 189 youth engaged in Heifer Armenia's Young Agriculturists Network of Armenia (YANOA) project. Thirteen-year-old Gegham was the only youth to dream of establishing a duck farm.
Rural youth like Gegham, who attend the business direction, or area of study, in the YES! Youth Clubs develop business plans. Once Heifer Armenia approves their business plans, they receive a seed grant of 40,000 Armenian drams, about $100, to start their small businesses.
"People in Khor Virap run poultry farms such as chickens, geese, turkeys, yet nobody is engaged in duck farming. This is a very interesting type of business. I love what I do. It is something I do with great pleasure," Gegham said.
In May 2012, he bought 30 ducklings for 30,000 drams, or about $75. With the rest of the money he bought feed and medicine for the ducks. He knew duck meat was in high demand at restaurants, and was confident that if he worked diligently he would earn a good profit. With care and quality feed, the ducklings grew quickly over the next six months.
"I have had lots of funny moments and memories regarding my ducks. Ducks are well-organized birds. They keep themselves very clean. And of course, I'm wordless to describe how cute they are! My mom always helps me in running my poultry farm, especially when I'm at school or busy doing my lessons at home. I do my best to learn every detail about well-being and good care of the ducks," Gegham said.
Recently, Gegham has sold the little ducklings born on his farm and generated 120,000 drams, or about $300. After passing on a seed grant to another youth member and purchasing feed and medicine, he made a net profit of 40,000 drams, or about $100.
"I have always had interest in ducks. Wherever I saw them, I used to stand for hours and watch them. This is a great view for me. I really enjoy it. Due to this project, it is the first time in my life I was enabled to realize my old dream of having a duck farm. I initiated my own small business and generated money. Thank you Heifer for providing me the opportunity of realizing my old dream."