Three years ago in 2015, Andranik Dumanyan happily drove six hours roundtrip to pick up the new wheel tractor that would benefit his village of Artsvaberd in Tavush Province. The tractor, with its attachments suited for plowing, chopping, collecting, seeding, etc., was designed to ease work in the fields. It was the first major purchase of the then newly-established Artsvaberd Agricultural Cooperative. The 46-year-old mechanic, who harvests grass for livestock feed, is able to produce significantly more with the new tractor. Previously, he did all the harvesting manually.

Members are quite pleased with the work of their cooperative, which has had a huge impact on the expansion of village farm lands. Currently, all 400 hectares of arable land are in use; in the past only 100 hectares could be used with the limited tools available. Now, Artsvaberd community farmers can work the land more quickly and efficiently.

The machinery was gifted to the co-op by FAR and the Ministry of Agriculture. By pooling their resources, farmers are able to afford to maintain the machinery, something they didn’t think was previously possible.

“At first, we were skeptical of forming the co-op, as we haven’t seen much good happening in this area in the last few years. Who would have thought that one day we would have new agro-machinery? We thought it was impossible. However, we have seen the outcomes, and many of us have big hopes for the future now; we do not want to leave the village. We can now imagine our futures here,” said Koryun Matinyan, municipal employee and co-op member.

The establishment of the co-op and subsequent machinery purchase is part of the Community Agricultural Resource Management and Competitiveness (CARMAC) project implemented by Armenia’s Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with FAR’s Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP).

“Villagers now are interested in enlarging their cattle stock, something they couldn’t do because of the lack of machinery and lack of sufficient feed,” stated Matinyan, who added that because of high demand for feed they have started cultivating additional smaller plots of land on the outskirts of the village.

The number of co-op members has also increased from 65 to 78. They pay 20% less when using the agro-machinery as compared to farmers in neighboring villages. There are large farmers in the village and some even have more than 50 cattle; the co-op is a great support to them.

Jora Voskanyan has a stock of 40 cows, but he wants it to increase. He claims that his work has become much easier than before. “We used to do the work manually, or we would hire workers to do the job, therefore, it was neither cost nor time effective,” he noted.

Onlik Balyan, the administrative head of Artsvaberd, said the co-op needs one more wheel tractor. “The one we want has three functions, chopping, collecting and clamping, and in the case of having two tractors, it would be faster and more effective,” he explained. They currently don’t also have a place to park their tractor and its equipment. “If we were provided with the construction materials we could build it ourselves. Currently, the machinery and the attachments are stored in different locations.” But Onlik said the village is grateful for FAR’s support. “Actions speak louder than words, after all.”