Funding by the Austrian Development Agency and in cooperation with Oxfam Armenia, BSC has implemented the Improving Small Holder Farming through Agricultural Cooperatives and Value Chain Development in Tavush Marz, Armenia project. The project focuses on 15 rural communities in the Tavush Marz. Beneficiaries are small farm owners from these communities.
BSC gives special importance to the project as it is expected to benefit 2,000 community members through a range of activities including the development of agricultural cooperatives, facilitating micro credit provision and developing an agricultural infrastructure (community greenhouses, a cold storage facility, and a processing plant).
The project highlights the importance for the improvement of women’s roles. Research studies have been carried out to assess women's roles and potential in the supply chain, based on the fact that households headed by women make up 10%-15% of the targeted households.
In the scope of the project, 15 new cooperatives were established in 15 rural communities. Community members took part in training programs on bookkeeping, accountancy skills, financial reporting, as well as acquiring skills for dealing with relevant government departments, project management and sustainable use of forest resources. The cooperatives were provided with consulting services on accounting, marketing, and on building relations with processors and suppliers.
Activities for the establishment of greenhouses include land lot identification and final selection, legal documentation and paperwork, tender announcements and contracting. Fifteen greenhouses, including those with drip irrigation systems, were constructed in communities of the Tavush region. Cooperative members were provided with agricultural tools, equipment and fertilizers.
As a result of the project, small farm owners had the opportunity to become members of agricultural cooperatives to improve their position within their value chains. This project fully complies with the RA Rural Sustainable Development (RASD) Strategy (2010/20).
Within the project, BSC carried out a feasibility study for the establishment of a processing plant, which was followed by consulting on branding for the plant. Another activity was the development of a website for the cooperatives (www.cooperative.am), where each cooperative is represented.