ATG Continues to Empower the People of Armenia

ATG Continues to Empower the People of Armenia

May 27, 2009

ATG Continues to Empower the People of Armenia

On this 20th anniversary of serving the people of Armenia and Artsakh, the Fresno, California based Armenian Technology Group, Inc. (ATG) is introducing new and more efficient conservation agricultural practices to Armenia by empowering the farmers with knowledge and technology and encouraging them to adopt those farming practices and helping them produce profitably.

ATG devoted nearly 12 years to develop a sustainable seed production industry in Armenia. The project has left its mark on the nation’s economy by increasing local production of cereals and reducing dependence on foreign imports.

“We took a ground-up approach by training and teaching the farmers how to produce and maintain high quality and high yielding crops year after year” said the ATG’s outgoing president, Nubar Tashjian, JD, of Oakland, California.

Sustainable wheat and other seed production programs, such as barley and alfalfa, require a natural life-cycle of seven growing seasons whereby seed-producing farmers, grain growers, milling companies, bakers, and consumers can interact in a sustainable free market structure.

“Farmers who we trained to grow quality seeds and grains over the years are running successful operations now. They know what they are doing and they need a minimum of our help.” said Gagik Mkrchyan, director of the Armenia-based ATG Foundation. The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service has been one of the major sponsors of this long running program.

“We achieved our goal by transferring knowledge and technology directly to the farmers, while establishing a natural market structure based on supply and demand between the growers and the consumers. This is an industry that not only can sustain itself behind our involvement, but will continue to have a positive impact on the country’s trade balance, added Mr. Tashjian.

ATG’s efforts for the next few years will be focused on expanding the conservation agricultural technologies in Armenia to reverse the long-standing trend of soil degradation by rebuilding soil productivity — increasing soil organic matters and improving soil structure, quality and health.

“We are excited about this project. Our goal is to optimize yield potential while minimizing negative impacts to the environment” said Dr. James P. Reynolds, the newly elected president of ATG from his home town of Visalia, California.

ATG technical advisers will help the farmers in Armenia to adapt conservation agricultural technology and practice the following objectives:
a) minimize mechanical soil disturbance, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, soil compaction and the potential for soil erosion, along with minimizing the disruption of soil biological cycles;
b) maintain a crop or crop residue cover on the soil surface year round;
c) maximize the amount of crop residues on the soil surface throughout the year, and
d) stimulate biological activity through crop rotation diversity, cover crops and integrated nutrient and pest management.

During the 2008-2009 fall and spring planting season, ATG introduced the conservation farming system to seven different locations. These farms are being used as field demonstration sites to disseminate information on the use and benefits of conservation agriculture systems technology to farmers. This technology was highlighted in the cover article, “The Quiet (Farming) Revolution”, in the July, 2008, issue of Scientific American.

“This project is being funded by private contributions, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere appreciation to our partners and sponsors for helping ATG assist the farmers and their families over the years. Particularly I would like to thank The Lincy Foundation, for their continuous support for this and for our previous economic development programs in Armenia. Not only is their support of our mission helping feed the people of Armenia, but it is also creating employment and generated income,” concluded Dr. Reynolds.

Tax-deductible contributions in support of conservation agriculture in Armenia can be mailed to ATG at P. O. Box 5969, Fresno, CA 93755