YEREVAN—On Jan. 23, the European Union Delegation to Armenia and the Austrian Development Agency will jointly hold a ceremony to launch the European Neighborhood Program for Rural Development Armenia (ENPARD Armenia). This program will be implemented over the next three years, providing 20 million euros ($23.17 million) of budget support for the government of Armenia to sustain agricultural and rural development. A further 5 million euros will be committed to provide support to the Ministry of Agriculture to promote the development of farmers’ groups and value adding chains throughout Armenia.
The Republic of Austria, through the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, in turn provides 1 million euros as technical assistance in support of farmers’ groups and value adding chains. Complementary activities will be implemented in Shirak, Lori and Tavush provinces.
Within the framework of the program, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will provide technical support to the government of Armenia in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, local authorities and other stakeholders. UNIDO and UNDP will join efforts to strengthen and establish producer groups and engage them effectively in value chain development. FAO will provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture for institutional development and policy harmonization, as well as in the roll-out of the national agricultural census. Beneficiaries of the program are rural communities, farmers, producer group members, employees in agricultural value chains, and their families.
The launching ceremony will be attended by Armenia’s Minister of Agriculture Sergo Karapetyan, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Ambassador Traian Hristea, Counselor and Head of Office for the South Caucasus for the Austrian Development Bank Gunther Zimmer, EU member state Ambassadors, representatives from the government of Armenia, the United Nations and other international organizations.
The proposed support, in line with EU assistance priorities, will contribute directly to achieving the Eastern Partnership key objective of reducing economic and social disparities. Given the high unemployment and lack of livelihoods and income, poverty levels in Armenia remain high, particularly in rural areas. Agriculture and subsistence farming represent a broad-based opportunity for food security and informal employment. Thus, there is a great need for agricultural and rural development through improving agricultural institutions, strengthening the capacity and performance of farmers associations and cooperatives, increasing access to affordable food, and supporting the roll-out of a general agricultural census.