A radio technician by trade, Manvel Brutyan also builds furniture and produces his own wine. Last year, the 48-year-old delved further into agribusiness when he constructed his own greenhouse at his home in Paravakar Village with help from FAR’s Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP ). Despite his variety of skills, Manvel has found it extremely hard to make a decent living and he wanted to diversify his methods of farming with the hope of increasing his income.

Now fully complete, the greenhouse has drip irrigation and alternative underground heating system, which enable Manvel to cultivate four different kinds of strawberries and raspberries.

He received FAR’s help when he learned about our Economic Initiatives Program which is a part of BCPP and enabled him to finance his project. “In order to get the process right, I watch videos on YouTube,” he said. “I consult with local farmers who grow the seedlings I use. FAR also put me in touch with a greenhouse expert who I can always contact for questions,” said Manvel, who noted that he still needs time to figure out all of the secrets to growing delicious strawberries. “To have a good harvest, you need to cultivate crops properly, pay attention to water temperature, etc.”

Manvel decided to grow strawberries after researching the region and finding that it lacked a producer. “The first things one here typically grows in a greenhouse are tomatoes and cucumbers, while no one really thinks of growing something that’s harder to come by and may ultimately be more in demand. So, my choice to produce berries was driven by that fact.”
Manvel lives with his parents, his wife, Ovsanna, and their two children, Meline, 15, and Davit, 6. Ovsanna assists him with most of his work.

“My favorite type of strawberry is the Albion, as it has been a winner for having a record harvest for several decades. Today, the best sort is the Monterey because I can reap a great harvest from them, but I’m a real fan of the Albion. Later on, when all goes right with the four types I grow, I want to try to expand the choices and grow all sorts and colors, like white, yellow and orange strawberries,” he said.

FAR’s support was imperative for him to launch this business, Manvel said. His eligibility was determined by his idea and his abilities rather than his level of income and savings, etc., as would have happened had he tried to receive financial support through a bank. Rather, FAR’s support is 40% grant-based, with the other 60% a no-interest loan.

“FAR believed in me and I will do everything to succeed,” said Manvel.