Introducing Innovative Growing Techniques to Increase Smallholder Incomes
The fragmentation of the agricultural production base in Armenia prevents the country’s farm enterprises from achieving the scale necessary for efficient production. Although family farms average 1.4 hectares, they are usually made up of three or more smaller parcels in different locations. As a result, farmers get low yields and inconsistent quality and cannot assemble enough produce to meet market demand. Because of this fragmentation, local marketing is carried out by small traders and even the producers themselves.
Furthermore, limited financial resources and a lack of information about on-farm water usage and pest management have led to widespread use of herbicides and pesticides that come from dubious sources and are applied with rudimentary spraying devices. Thus, throughout rural Armenia, the labor-intensive agricultural sector results in low yields of produce and poor incomes for smallholder farmers.
ACDI/VOCA worked in partnership with ARCADIS Euroconsult (Netherlands) and VISTAA (Armenia) to implement the Water-to-Market (WtM) Activity as part of the Millennium Challenge Armenia (MCA) program. The project’s objective was to accelerate the transition to more profitable agricultural production through the following activities:
- introducing and encouraging best practices in irrigated agriculture
- fostering the adoption of improved water management techniques
- shifting to higher-value crops and livestock
- strengthening the post-harvest and processing enterprises linking producers to their domestic and international end markets
- strengthening the capacity of credit providers to fund viable proposals in production and post-harvest activities
The $18.4 million program was implemented from February 2007 to October 2011.
Under WtM, 60,000 rural farmers received training and observed demonstrations in on-farm water management. Approximately 30,000 of these farmers learned about higher-value farming activities. The WtM activity increased employment and incomes for farmers and rural businesses. The program also created synergy between rural infrastructure development and agribusiness development.
The WtM project reached all 10 marzes, or provinces, through its training and credit programs and demonstration sites. Results include the following:
- 38,627 farmers completed the on-farm water management training.
- 24,379 farmers completed the high-value agriculture training.
- 100 on-farm water management demonstration sites were established, including the installation of irrigation improvements and technical innovations in order to provide field training for farmers
- An additional 11 demonstration sites were established for high-value agriculture.
- 157 enterprises were assisted under the post-harvest, processing and marketing component.
- $7 million worth of loans were approved for 633 WtM beneficiaries from 11 financial institutions accredited by MCA.