Most of small farmers in Armenia are in economically vulnerable conditions and do not have access to affordable financial resources such as loans and credits. They prefer cheep and low quality agricultural input such as seeds/seedlings, chemicals, fertilizer etc. As a result of it they receive poor crop yield and do not expand their activities. The lack of access to affordable financial sources, credits and loans, marketing skills and market information on agricultural products (demand, supply, costs, etc.) exclude smallholders from benefiting from markets and deprives them from economic development opportunities.
“Due to loans provided by Oxfam and Horizon Fund I saved my young garden from vanishing”.
Haghtanak is the one of the remote villages in Tavush region. Around five women are employed in the greenhouse established by Oxfam in Haghtanak. The greenhouse is in quite a distance from the village. Zamira Israelyan is one of its employees, member of agriculture cooperative and since 2011 is benefiting from the micro credits provided by Horizon fund, in partnership with Oxfam and funded by ADA. She walks a long way every day to get to the greenhouse in order to water the plants on time. She aims to do her work with dignity and she never complains off the work.
“I will get sick, if I don’t work”, Zamira says. She is in harmony with nature and knows how to cultivate the soil. Her main occupation is farming and livestock breeding. She engaged in horticulture since she was 23 so she has plenty of experience. Her two sons and daughter have already their own families, but still looking for Zamiras’ advice and support. She worked hard during her whole life, but never had enough resources to buy a larger land to cultivate more harvest for their big family. “Three years ago I decided to establish new orchard. I nurtured the young plants as my grandchildren. But because of extremely cold winter and water scarcity in the community, my young orchard was under the risk of vanishing. Only due to the loans provided by the Oxfam project, I manage to renew my orchard with new plants. These money literally saved my orchard”, stated Zamira during our last meeting.
Nowadays Zamira is full of energy and has a lot of plans to secure sustainable livelihood for her 6 grandchildren. Now she has experience in taking loans and has necessary credit history to claim bigger loans from banks to buy a bigger land. “Micro –credit without interests is a huge opportunity for rural farmers. I know that many members of our cooperative are looking for these loans and very happy to have them especially during agricultural seasons, when we desperately need quality seeds and seedlings, money to rent the machinery and rent a car to sell our produce in the nearby markets”, said Zamira.
Rural women Farmers to Work Their Way out of Poverty in Lchkadzor- Community Green House
Women are often the main breadwinners in Armenia, as many men migrate abroad for work, leaving their wives to manage the household and take care of agricultural activities (over 40% of Armenian income derives from agriculture). Traditional beliefs prevent women from taking part in decision making processes that affect their livelihoods and traditional crops are failing to reach their full yields, due to increasingly erratic and harsh weather conditions (snow, flood, and drought). Even when there is a surplus, produce is difficult to sell because of limited storage, processing and marketing facilities.
Rural Women Farmers to Work Their Way Out of Poverty in Lchkadzor,
Community Green House
Oxfam, within the framework of the project funded by ADA is working in Lchkadzor community of Tavush marz, to help local farmers improve their livelihoods, through establishment of women agriculture cooperative. Cooperative proves a viable solution to many smallholders’ problems facilitating access to much needed quality seeds, technology and business credit.
Lchkadzor is one of the oldest rural communities in Tavush, around 550 people live there. Most of them are women and children, male population is migrating to Russia to find a job because the lack of opportunities there. Women need to stay at home to take care of the children because there is still no kindergarten for them to go.
Thanks to Oxfam project funded by ADA, donation from Diaspora and their own hard work, now women in Lchkadzor has green houses where women can work, this also helps decrease the vulnerability of the community. The cooperative that they formed, creates jobs for people in the village, allowing them to support their families. Lusine, the head of newly established women cooperative, now works at the green houses with great pleasure. She is also a teacher for ten years, and she has three children to take care. Her main hope is to be able to improve the financial situation of the village, so they can have a kindergarten, cultural centre, and a place for sports. Part of the income of the cooperative is going to be invested in the community. She also believes that because of this development, more people is going to have jobs and they will be able to stay in the village.
When they first started building the green houses she said “Nobody imagine that such renovations could be made” but now, they not only have the green houses working, they are also assisted during the process with agricultural and marketing training.
People from the community say that “with Oxfam’s assistance and its agricultural cooperative, people have faith in the beautiful environment, hope in the crops they are cultivating, and hope in the kindergarten”.