With the purpose to promote YPARD’s mission in Armenia, and to better understand how local youth can benefit from it, in March, our team organized two meetings with different stakeholders involved in agriculture. The first meeting took place in the mountain resort Aghveran, gathering young farmers involved in organic farming. The second meeting was organized for juniors, who pursue a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness and Marketing at the Agribusiness Teaching Center (ATC) in Yerevan. Both meetings were productive and helped to generate recommendations and ideas for practically addressing youth’s needs.
Presentations to young farmers and students in agriculture
In Aghveran, YPARD Armenia’s working team member, Anna Hovhannisyan, presented the network to over 20 young organic farmers, speaking both about her personal experience with YPARD and the opportunities that others can benefit from. Most participants showed high interest in YPARD’s work and were happy to learn about all the tools, opportunities, and information provided by this platform.
The second meeting was hosted by ATC, which offers Western-style education based on the undergraduate and graduate agricultural economics curriculum of Texas A&M University. It was the first collaboration between YPARD Armenia and ATC, which will hopefully continue in the future as well. Presenting at ATC was important for two main reasons. First, this place is where many of the next (and past) generations of agripreneurs and researchers from Armenia and Georgia take (have taken) their first steps. Thus, spicing up their modern education with all the real-world opportunities that YPARD offers will surely benefit their careers. Second, all three members of YPARD Armenia working team—Anna Hovhannisyan, Astghik Sahakyan, and I, Armen Ghazaryan, are alumni of ATC. This is a long-standing tradition at ATC that previous generations give back to their ATC family, and support the upcoming generations to succeed in their agriculture careers.At ATC, besides presenting the platform and its opportunities, Anna also shared her experience as a young agripreneur, who started and successfully runs a dry-fruit production in Armenia. Students were highly motivated about the presentation, which was followed by a productive discussion, and a QA session. They were mostly interested in learning about internship opportunities, business and grant proposal writing, as well as more specialized questions about export and marketing strategies, and the tax environment in the country.
Outcomes and further planning
While the farmer-participants at Aghveran meeting were happy to learn about YPARD, they increased their concern that the network may benefit only a few people in rural areas, given that many of them do not speak English. Therefore, they suggested having a Russian translation of YPARD’s website, so that it can attract more people. This is a common concern among ex-Soviet countries, where many people, especially in rural areas, have little knowledge of English. This meeting also helped YPARD Armenia to make new connections, one of which was Gavar State University (GSU), located in Gagharkunik Province of Armenia. Thanks to this newly acquired connection, YPARD Armenia team is going to organize a meeting at GSU soon.
Since the audience at ATC was different from the one in Aghveran, so are the ideas for future actions. YPARD Armenia is planning to work closely with ATC, and others to offer the students a series of workshops on agribusiness and grant proposal writing, agstart-up processes, and ag. research funding since most students were particularly interested in this kind of opportunities.
Picture credits: Agribusiness Teaching Center