In addition to irrigation, the need for the introduction of modern anti-hail stations, subsidies and non-agricultural land problems, small and large farms need quality advice and low-interest loans to increase the efficiency of their work.
“There are several hundred hectares of uncultivated lands in Martuni that are not being cultivated due to the lack of irrigation systems. Besides, machinery was provided to us but processing equipment - plows, sowing equipment were not provided. The agricultural machinery is useless now when the active agricultural season launched because it cannot get out to work and it is parked in hangars,” Armen Avetisyan, Mayor of Martuni, said.
The official also said that the government does not help Martuni region to solve some problems, and then they do their best to solve them on their own. “I had never begged until I was 55 years old and I have always relied on my own strength, and became a successful businessman, but when I became mayor, I beg, I plead to give me this or that to do something,” he said.
These issues were the topics of the discussion held jointly with “Martuni Women's Community Council” on May 6. Besides Armen Avetisyan, the speakers were Ashot Harutyunyan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Karen Hakobyan, Deputy Governor of Gegharkunik Regional Administration, Hambardzum Hambardzumyan, Head of Agriculture and Environment Department of Gegharkunik Regional Administration, farmers and Martuni inhabitants.
Ashot Harutyunyan said that the process of providing agricultural equipment to various regions of Armenia by co-financing and leasing continues. And he explained the problem in Martuni by the restructuring process of government's programs implementing office. “This process will be completed soon. The communities that are ready to take part in the government's agricultural extension program, there will be no problems,” he said.
He added that issues related to the irrigation system will be transferred to the government in order to try to find their solutions. At the same time he added that although this year the government provided farmers with fertilizer and diesel fuel with subsidized prices it is planned to abandon that program starting the next year and direct the funds to other programs which will increase the efficiency of agriculture.
The intention of the government not providing subsidies raised questions among the participants. “I am a farmer and I am barely able to purchase fertilizer with subsidized prices. If the subsidy are deducted starting from the next year, how shall I gain high-priced fertilizer?” one of the participants asked the deputy minister.
Ashot Harutyunyan’s reply was that thanks to subsidies, the price of fertilizer bears no significant change for farmers.
“A sack of fertilizer comprises 1000 AMD due to the state subsidies. This is not much useful for farmers but when we calculate, quite a lot of money is spent by the state and significant growth in agricultural productivity is not registered. On the other hand, when we give up this program, the market will open and the prices will be regulated and reduced due to many importers of fertilizer according to the market rules. The saving money should be directed to other programs, which will have higher efficiency. I urge the farmers if you have programs, contact the government, the regional administration, submit them, in order to implement them with the additional means,” he said.
The participants also raised the need to hold regular consultations with farmers with the support of the state. “Potatoes and cabbage are traditionally cultivated in Martuni. In some other parts of Gegharkunik region, also grain is grown. Perhaps it should be changed, new types should be brought with new technologies to have a high efficiency,” participants raised a question. They also proposed to set up a processing sugar beet in Martuni and sugar production plant.
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