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July 16, 2009

ACNIS Holds Seminar on “Rural Poverty and Democracy in Armenia”

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), together with the “Farmers’ Movement” non-governmental organization convened a roundtable discussion today, entitled “Rural Poverty and Democracy in Armenia,” assessing the current situation in Armenia’s towns and villages, with a focus on the need for a more balanced policy of regional development that meets the needs of the country’s rural population and that seeks to bolster support for farmers and others engaged in the Armenian agricultural sector.  The conference included representatives from each of Armenia’s regions, and was attended by several analysts, experts, foreign diplomatic representatives and journalists.

After welcoming the participants and attendees to the joint event, ACNIS Director Richard Giragosian explained that the seminar was the first in a series of events to be organized jointly between the Center and the “Farmers Movement” aimed at “drawing attention to the serious situation now facing Armenian farmers.”  He added that “farmers are now under new pressure from rising prices for water and other essential farming products, while at the same time, broader economic problems, such as declining remittances and money from abroad, have contributed to a decline in consumer demand for Armenian agricultural products.”  Giragosian also highlighted the “inherent vulnerability of Armenia’s farmers, who receive little assistance and even less attention or concern for the Armenian authorities.”

Giragosian then noted the “financial difficulties that have recently put new pressure on Armenian families, including recent storms and flooding that have damaged crops, often with little or no response from the state.”  He further warned that “farmers are now burdened by serious levels of debt and are increasingly unable to sustain their livelihoods.”  Part of this problem, he said, also “stems from the import of greater amounts of produce and agricultural products from both Iran and Turkey, often selling for cheaper prices but of much lower quality than comparable Armenian products.”

The president of the “Farmers’ Movement,” Sargis Sedrakyan, presented a formal report detailing the specific state of agriculture and local economic issues in each of Armenia’s regions.  The report was based on extensive field research conducted by the “Farmers’ Movement” that provided the most recent assessment of conditions in terms of rural poverty, economic activity and agricultural production.  The report, published by the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), is available for download here or by calling ACNIS at the contact information below.

Founded in 1996, the “Farmers’ Movement” is a non-governmental organization consisting of private farmers throughout Armenia engaged in various aspects of the agricultural sector that promotes the development of agricultural industry, protects the rights and benefits of its members, and represents the interests of farmers in Armenia.  The seminar was then closed with a series of questions and answers, as well as a lively exchange among the participants, including a brief summary report on conditions in each region by their representatives.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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Armenian version