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Armenia Fund USA Inc.
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Phone: 212-689-5307
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For Immediate Release
July 07, 2006


The first Agricultural Development Association established in Mardakert

NEW YORK, New York – Armenia Fund USA, East Region affiliate of All-Armenian Fund is pleased to announce that its agricultural development project, promising to revitalize the agricultural sector of Karabakh’s economy, is currently underway. The Agricultural Initiative aims at upgrading the standards of living of the rural communities in the Mardakert Region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The three-year, three phase program, developed by leading experts in the United States with the initiation of Armenia Fund USA and All-Armenian Fund, and in cooperation with the governments of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, involves a new approach to the idea of development by empowering rural communities to invest in their agricultural potential. While initially aimed at converting subsistence farmers (producing just enough to feed their families) into export producers, the Agro Initiative is a long-term strategic plan targeting rural poverty reduction in the region.

Armenia Fund USA presenting the Agro-Initiative to local farmers in Mardakert, Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia Fund USA presenting the Agro-Initiative to local farmers in Mardakert, Nagorno-Karabakh

The Agro Initiative, implemented by Armenia Fund USA, is one of the many other components of the “Rebirth of Artsakh” Regional Development Program – a large-scale initiative undertaken by all 19 affiliates of the Fund to provide much needed assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh through a series of projects that include construction of new schools, healthcare facilities, drinking and water irrigation systems and access roads.

Building upon continued success of implementing development projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia Fund USA is now focusing on the Agro Initiative. Addressing the issue of functional agricultural infrastructure, given the region’s historical potential as a major agricultural area, appears to be the logical place to start in revitalizing the agricultural economy on basis of which regional development can become feasible.

A local farmer reading Mardakert Agricultural Development Association information booklet

A local farmer reading Mardakert Agricultural Development Association information booklet

After conducting a field study of Nagorno-Karabakh villages and the situation of rural farming communities, a team of leading experts from Turnaround Associates, Inc., a New York based corporate consulting firm, designed a step-by-step plan to expand Karabakh’s food production capabilities by careful balancing of import-export ratio.

The plan involved supporting rural farmers in nearly all aspects of agricultural activity. However without access to fundamental farm equipment, this was simply impossible. Armenia Fund USA therefore focused on strategies that would support purchase and maintenance of new agricultural equipment as well as provide technical support related services to small farmers. This is when the necessity of establishing Agricultural Development Associations (ADA), complemented by Service centers to house equipment and serve as a source of technology transfer through Agricultural Service Corporations (ASCOs), came into being.

ADA information brochure translated into Armenian

An information brochure was prepared and translated into Armenian for the local farmers in Mardakert to introduce them to the idea and rationale of ADA membership criteria and benefits of joining

A very recent trip (May 2006) to the region by Armenia Fund USA representatives was, among many other activities, to establish the Mardakert Agricultural Development Association (MADA) in Mardakert Region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was done in cooperation with All-Armenian Fund in Yerevan and the local government.

After selecting the site for the MADA and appointing Director in Residence responsible for the project in Karabakh, the rationale of the Mardakert Agricultural Development Association, a voluntary non-profit association of farmers, as well as Mardakert Agricultural Services Corporation, a joint stock commercial company that is to provide technical and farm equipment services at affordable rates, was presented to the Karabakh Ministry of Agriculture on the one hand, and to the local farming communities on the other. To introduce Mardakert farmers to the organizational structure of the ADA and explain the benefits of becoming a member of the Association, Armenia Fund USA held meetings with Karabakh farmers to encourage them to join. Particularly noteworthy were the farmers’ enthusiasm and openness to cooperate and receive expert training in areas where their agricultural methods had proven outmoded. Their readiness to join efforts in improving agricultural production by collective efforts is what will make the further development of the ADA a success.

According to present estimates, over 18 villages with a population of more than 9,000 will be direct beneficiaries of this initiative.

The newly established Mardakert Agricultural Development Association will start accepting applications for local farmers in the fall. Currently, the Fund is in the process of purchasing the necessary equipment for the first ADA. Tractors, share plows, wheat seed drills, trucks mowers and combines are being ordered from China and Russia to be transported to Armenia and then to Nagorno-Karabakh. A $700,000 worth of farm equipment is needed for the ADA to start its function this fall.

The Agro Initiative will start with production of wheat, the dominant field crop in Karabakh. Apart from providing upgraded technical assistance to farmers, the Initiative involves significant efforts to involve the social factor of change in agricultural production in Karabakh. The idea of ADAs owned by local farmers, the expert trainings and exchange of information are specific steps to engage rural farming communities to become entrepreneurs.

ABOUT ARMENIA FUND USA: ARMENIA FUND USA, founded in 1992, was the first of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s 18 international affiliates and serves constituents in all states east of the Mississippi. As a non-profit, non-governmental, nonsectarian organization, the Fund represents all Armenian constituents.

Armenia Fund USA is the largest contributor among the 18 international affiliates – supporting strategic infrastructure projects in Armenia and Karabakh, and having helped build 138 miles of roads, 100 miles of waterways, 36 schools, 3 electric transmission networks, 210 residential buildings and 15 healthcare institutions.

Armenia Fund USA’s Mission is the development of strategic socio-economic infrastructure in Armenia and Karabakh, focusing on major projects such as major highways, schools, drinking water to communities and humanitarian programs in education, training and medical facilities. The Fund has adopted a policy to go “Beyond Bricks and Mortar” to provide sustainability for projects it sponsors.

To learn more about Armenia Fund USA, please visit our website at or call us at 212-689-5307.

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