This year, as part of the Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP), FAR pioneered an eight-month, high-value crop cultivation project in Norashen Village in Armenia’s Tavush Province, with the aim of effectively using community land to improve social and economic conditions.

The Atoyans are one of six families who expressed their interest in cultivating lentils, peas, and beans as a potential way to bring in more income.

“It was the first time we cultivated lentils, and we had a pretty good harvest. We used to grow beans before, but this year we grew a few more acres and collected the best harvest,” said Tina Atoyan, who added that they also had a good harvest of peas and were able to sell their products in Norashen, Berd, and Yerevan. “We only have a few remaining kilos of lentils that need to be sold.”

Overall, the six families collectively used 8.5 hectares of land and harvested more than 6.5 tons of chickpeas, peas, lentils, and beans instead of the wheat and barley they traditionally produce. The project gave families like the Atoyans the chance to grow high-value crops that they could not only eat at home, but also sell for a greater profit than wheat. By diversifying the crop, it also helps to mitigate the damage wheat does to the land, cut down on the investment needed to cultivate the wheat crop year after year, and expand the quantity of land that’s currently used for agriculture.

“More than half of Norashen’s cultivated lands are used to grow wheat. This number is increasing year by year as it requires less labor force. To change the situation, we experimented with this program and it succeeded. We needed to see what the harvest would be and the investment versus harvest ratio is satisfactory,” said Eric Baghdasaryan, FAR economic development expert. “Next year we will try to expand the program, improve the quality of the crop, and help farmers to find stable markets.”