Tomato field belonging to Gevorg Sheroyan, a farmer from Pokr Vedi community, who employs 15 people during the season.
Pokr Vedi is a relatively small community in Ararat region, located on the left bank of the Araks River and home to nearly 3,300 people. Agriculture is the main livelihood for the local population, fruit orchards represent the main source of income.
Proper supply of irrigation water is of utmost importance to ensure secure and stable income, and a decent livelihood for the community, For years, Pokr Vedi has been supplied irrigation water from two sources, but due to the deteriorated irrigation network and significant water losses, farmers were struggling to adequately irrigate their lands. As a result, the community identified the improvement of the irrigation network as a priority.
In response, USAID’s Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) and Participatory Utilization and Resource Efficiency of Water (PURE Water) projects, along with the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund and Artashat Water Users Association, joined together with the Pokr Vedi community to upgrade the local irrigation system.
Gevorg Sheroyan is one of over 400 farmers benefiting from the renovated irrigation system. He was born and raised in Pokr Vedi, a mechanic-pedagogue by profession. He taught mechanics and technologies in the village school for 37 years, sharing his knowledge and experience with school children on the use of agricultural machinery. Gevorg is also an experienced farmer. He first introduced a drip irrigation system in his greenhouse in 2008, to increase yield and improve crop quality. This was his first effort in this technology on a relatively small-scale greenhouse.
In our conversation, Gevorg noted that the ASPIRED Project solved the most important problem the community was facing: huge water losses in the irrigation network. Encouraged by this, in the spring of this year, Gevorg installed a drip irrigation system on his land plot, 1.6 hectare, with his own investment, so he can produce commercially competitive highquality tomatoes. Compared to his earlier experience of drip irrigation system in a greenhouse, this was a much larger scale investment, applied in an open field.
“The increased water supply and proper pressure provided by the Project improvements to the system, ensured smooth operation of the pump and I was able to successfully operate a drip irrigation system in this field. This system will allow irrigation of up to 20-30 hectares of land. I therefore am planning to expand the drip irrigation for another 4 hectares next year.”
Gevorg invested approximately USD 4,200 in installing drip irrigation system, including purchase of new filters and pipes. The ASPIRED Project then helped Gevorg further upscale his irrigation system, which in turn has expanded the economic gains of his farm. This resulted in increased yeld by three times, improved quality of crops, and creation of additional jobs for the community. This increased his yield three times, improved crop quality, and created additional jobs for the community.
Gevorg Sheroyan’s initiative and experience is a great example of sustainable development in rural communities. Beneficiaries like him recognize the value and importance of innovative technologies introduced by ASPIRED, and in turn use those resources to upscale the project impacts, enhance their businesses, ultimately improving the livelihoods of individuals and the greater community.
At the end of our conversation, Gevorg thanked the American people and the All-Armenian Fund for making this project a reality. Finally, he added: “The tomato yield is now actually three times more than that of the traditional fields. So my yield was doubled. If I take out the investment expenses, I actually generated more income. The increased yield is creating additional jobs. At present, I have 15 employees, both men and women, who gather the harvest. The higher the yield, the more people will be involved in collecting the harvest. After all, improved livelihood is gained through hard work.”
Prior to the ASPIRED intervention, approximately 40% of water running through the system in Pokr Vedi was lost. As a result of the project, the community now sees annual water savings of about 936,000 m3, and total energy savings of 341,640 kWh during the irrigation season. The annual financial benefit from the energy saving is approximately AMD 13.3 million or USD 27,400. This project is a standing proof that multilateral cooperation, joint efforts and investments benefit hard working farmers and community at large.