Return to Free Market!
“I was waiting for this moment!” Gagik Mkerchyan, ATG Foundation Director in Armenia (August 12, 2017)
The Prime Minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan has announced that “he has no further intention to interfere with seed producers and grain growers.” This pronouncement was followed by a telephone call to Gagik Mkerchyan, informing him that ‘the field is open for ATG affiliated growers to produce and market seed grains and other legumes.”
The private seed growers in Armenia had a difficult time during the past five years. Members of previous Administrations had intervened often to control the supply and distribution of wheat and other seed to the markets. As a result, the ATGF associated growers, who once supplied some 60% of the seed sown in the country, for the most part were marginalized.
This recent policy change will dramatically impact farm production in Armenia.
The fall planting season is only few weeks away. Hence, this early request for funds is a departure from our usual December solicitation, with the hope of maximizing the benefits that we can provide to the growers.
Help us to support the growers
The government’s announcement not to intervene between the seed and grain growers, allows ATG to re-energize the seed producers by helping them plant as many fields as possible. However, this turnabout by the government means that our year- end December appeal must now be immediately revised to aid our constituents in Armenia during the fall planting season.
Please make your annual – or even your year-end gift today. Depending on the growing zones, the planting season in Armenia starts in mid-September through early November. The next several weeks are crucial period to assist the growers. Your donation will immediately be transferred to the field to cover planting expenses. Once the planting cycle is back on track (see www.atgusa.org/seed), we anticipate that the program will sustain itself without additional financial support.
Please make your donation today. You can also visit our website at www.atgusa.org and donate online. You will make a big difference in helping growers provide for their families at this very junction of Armenia’s struggle in preventing its population from emigration.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has directly conveyed to me that they will discontinue any interference in the seed market. I am pleased by the Prime Minister’s decision, and am prepared to take on the challenge” said Gagik Mkrchyan, ATG Foundation Director in Armenia.
Action Plan for Fall Planting and anticipated Results
ATG is ready to help farmers return to profitable grain production so they can support their families. The Plan for Fall 2017, is to plant up to 50 acres of eight different varieties of wheat and other legumes for seed production.
The anticipated expenses, planting through harvesting, including farm inputs and irrigation expenses, are approximately $400 per acre. For this purpose, ATG is seeking your tax-deductible contributions to raise $20,000 to revive the private sector seed industry in Armenia that we had created earlier. The organization will utilize the Foundation’s seed inventory on hand to generate Registered seed for the coming spring. We will then supply the Registered seed to the seed growers whose plantings will multiply enabling them to plant about 960 acres to generate Certified and Common seeds. This fresh inventory will be made available to grain growers for maximum production. Your tax-deductible contribution will enable us to achieve our goal.
The Seed Bank – Our Back Up
Over the years, ATG had tested over 340 seed varieties on trial plots throughout the seven growing zones in Armenia. Our in- country Chief Agronomist, Mekhitar Gregoryan, along with Gagik Mkrchyan, have selected and saved the best and highest yielding wheat, alfalfa, sainfoin, corn, lentil and pea seed varieties, of each of these selections as our backup inventory.
Gagik and Mkhitar created the Seed Bank in order to and are ready to multiply those varieties to regenerate Foundation, Registered and Certified seeds, which subsequently could be planted by the grain growers for common consumption.
Chain Of Events
Prime Minister’s announcement provides the opportunity for ATG affiliated growers to resume certified seed production in Armenia. (for details visit our revised website:www.atgusa.org/seed)
In effect, this policy change represents a complete reversal from that of his predecessors. Under previous administrations’ tenure, the government imported untested seed to Armenia. Based on our years of experience in the field and on scientific data, we strongly voiced our concerns to the contrary in both English and Armenian papers in the US and Armenia.
The previous policy resulted in over 5,000 farmers obtaining bad wheat seed from the Government with no up-front cost. However, the seed loan purchases were collateralized by property deed leans payable upon completion of harvest. Poor production and low-quality grains resulted in farmers being unable to repay the loans with many losing their farms and many others in court trying to save their farms, whereas others abandoned their farms and migrated abroad.
During this grand experiment, private seed growers suffered dearly. The common grain growers had anticipated government support. And, although the supply was never enough to meet local demand, the seed producer’s association members were unable to sell their seed inventory to grain growers even as late as November. This brought an immediate hardship to local seed growers no longer able to make a living.
The Prime Minister’s recent governmental decision to remove itself from the seed producers and grain grower’s equation was welcomed by ATG affiliated grower, Hovhaness Gaboyan and other seed growers. “Within five days of the Prime Minister’s announcement, we were able to sell our seed inventory. Grain growers are aware of our seed quality. By the end of July we were completely sold out” said Gaboyan.
To that end, Mr. Aram Mkhoyan, Artsakh Minister of Agriculture, personally traveled to Armenia and purchased 32 MT of three newly harvested wheat seed varieties from our growers and transported them to Artsakh!
R&D and Cooperation with CIMMYT
Meeting with Dr. Alexey Morgounov, Head of International Winter Wheat Improvement Program at CIMMYT in 2016 resulted in obtaining eight new wheat seed varieties for trial purposes. Our research team set trial plots in fourteen different locations in the seven growing zones in the country. The trial plots reviled that 5 out of 8 new wheat seed varieties are suitable for Armenia’s climate. ATG will allocate 2.5 acres to setup a seed nursery for these five breeder wheat seed selections, to multiply and eventually distribute for planting with minimum risk to growers.
Dr. Morgounov’s letter, congratulated ATG and confirming CIMMYT’s commitment for cooperation is posted our website: www.atgusa.org/Testimonials.
Center to ATG’s mission is the belief that a strong farming sector is the foundation for building a nation with a healthy and viable market economy!