Harvesting Success: Achievements and Impact of the EU Green Agriculture Initiative in Armenia (EU-GAIA)

The EU Green Agriculture Initiative in Armenia (EU-GAIA), generously funded by the European Union in collaboration with contributions from the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), has made significant progress in promoting green and organic agriculture in Armenia. The project actively supports farmers and agribusinesses engaged in sustainable practices and has successfully implemented the Support of Agribusinesses Programme (SAP) Call. Beneficiary farmers and agribusinesses have received crucial support, including the provision of agricultural machinery and equipment, propelling them towards the realm of green and organic agriculture.

EU-GAIA recognizes the pivotal role of capacity-building at all levels for a seamless transition from conventional to green and organic agriculture. To this end, the initiative has successfully conducted a series of training programs in collaboration with esteemed local and international institutions and practitioners in the field. These programs aim to provide farmers with sustainable knowledge and information, contributing to the overall success of the green and organic agriculture movement.

One of the project’s highlights is the “Green and Organic Agri-technologies in Greenhouse Management” Training Session, designed to enhance farmers’ knowledge in greenhouse management and guide their transition from traditional to sustainable agricultural practices. The training sessions, conducted both in a classroom format and through online platforms like Zoom and Teams, have proven to be highly effective and engaging.

The comprehensive training content covers crucial aspects, including greenhouse safety rules, environment control systems, soil-based (including organic) and hydroponic greenhouse management, crop cultivation technology, integrated disease management, pest control (including biological control), and greenhouse business management and marketing. There were almost daily meetings, or meetings 3-4 times a week, encompassing both theoretical and practical fieldwork. Beneficiaries were involved in fieldwork at greenhouses in Ararat, Aragatsotn, and Shirak marzes to gain a better understanding of the processes each crop undergoes and how work is organized based on regional differences.Beneficiaries, including agribusinesses involved in green and organic agriculture under CALL 1 and 2 of the SAP program, as well as farmers participating in demonstration and post-harvest projects, actively participated in these training sessions. The training has focused on greenhouse crop production, covering vegetables, greens, berries (particularly strawberries), and even exploring grape and raspberry production in greenhouses. Nineteen beneficiaries passed the qualification exam after the theoretical and practical courses and received a certificate for successfully completing the program.

Simon Mantashyan, who established his greenhouse with program support for receiving planting material, shared his opinion on the program’s results: “Getting information about crop cultivation, from management to bringing the product to the market, gave us even more confidence about the work we did than we had before.”

Through the collaboration between the ICARE Foundation and EU-GAIA, Armenia’s farmers and agribusinesses are actively being equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to embrace green and organic agricultural practices. This proactive approach has already resulted in enhanced productivity and competitiveness in the market for green and organic products. Together, the project is paving the way for a sustainable and prosperous future for Armenia’s agriculture sector. The positive outcomes achieved thus far underscore the success and effectiveness of the EU-GAIA initiative in advancing green and organic agriculture in Armenia.