Armenia Tree Project ‘Enters the Forest’
With Large-Scale Reforestation Program
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After signing contracts with ATP, each backyard nursery owner was provided with a variety of seeds from nearby forests as well as the necessary tools and equipment. In addition, ATP agro-specialists regularly visited the nurseries to provide technical assistance and training to the farmers. Participants were taught how to maintain soil and properly nurture their seedlings, which needed to achieve a threshold height of 30 cm before being eligible for purchase by ATP.
According to a household survey conducted by ATP in 2003, the average annual income of rural villagers in Aygut was only $280, so the money earned by the families and workers involved in this project has provided a desperately needed source of income.
“As we received seeds for our nurseries and started the joint project with ATP, I felt that my family got involved in something big and very promising. At present I have 650 seedlings in my backyard nursery, which are ready for planting,” stated Kamo Mirzoyan, a senior agriculture specialist from the village of Aghavnavank. Selling each surviving seedling this season, Mirzoyan earned $145 US.
“Since this is a potentially long-term project which will have an impact on the land and ecosystem of the area, we began by obtaining the consent and official permission of the local mayors and community leaders in each village,” explains ATP agriculture specialist Robert Alexanyan, when explaining the organization’s methodology for this endeavor. “Because we took this approach, there were no obstacles to going ahead with the backyard nursery project and the reforestation effort. We are very proud to see our achievements and we intend to expand our mission to other villages.”
“The results of the 43 backyard nurseries in Aghavnavank were better than we had hoped. This is a very beneficial project for all of us. We have seven people in my family, and it was rather difficult to satisfy all of their needs. With this program, ATP eased our life and we are happy to have them in the village,” says Vardan Grigoryan, head of the local municipality.
Another refugee, Rita Ayvazyan, settled in the village in 1988, when there was no electricity and no drinking or irrigation water. “I am happy for the opportunity to grow and plant trees myself. Now my six children are fed and can attend school without feeling hungry. When my daughter graduates from school, she will join me and plant trees with all of us,” Rita told ATP staff with tears in her eyes.
Sixty-one year old Ashot Kocharyan has also been busy growing and planting trees. He mentioned the unifying aspect of reforestation as well: “Shoulder to shoulder, old and young, father and son, husband and wife are planting trees in the Getik Valley. Severe winter is very close, but due to ATP we were able to purchase flour and other needed goods.”
While Ashot and his wife were putting another seedling in the soil, another villager expressed his support for the program: “I lost my son in a traffic accident and my three other children left the village for a better life abroad. Now the two of us, my wife and I, decided to dedicate our lives to planting trees.”