Through UMCOR-supported Getap Agricultural Cooperative in Armenia, farmers receive the machinery, training and tools to successfully go to market.
By Anna Karapetyan*
July 5, 2013—Samvel, a farmer in the village of Getap, Armenia, was desperate. He had inherited from his father a plot of land near his house, where he and his family planted different types of fruit trees, mainly apricots. But over time, his agricultural equipment had become outdated, and he couldn’t afford to rent or acquire new machinery. He started to think about selling his land.
Then one day, he saw a notice posted on a wall at the local municipal office. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) was inviting the community to learn about its Sustainable Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Development Program. Through the program, which was funded by the US Department of Agriculture, UMCOR worked in 24 rural communities, establishing and strengthening agricultural cooperatives by mobilizing the communities and providing the co-ops with agricultural equipment and technical assistance.
Samvel decided to attend the introductory meeting. There, UMCOR staff spoke about the goals and principles of agricultural cooperatives. Samvel listened, but initially felt skeptical. He could think only of the cooperatives, or Kolkhoz (“collective farms”), that existed in Armenia during the Soviet era, which did not interest him. But his situation was such that he decided to take a chance. He would break the stereotypes he held and become a member of the UMCOR-supported cooperative in his village. And he hoped that by doing so, he would change his life.
Getap Agricultural Cooperative was established on November 12, 2009, with 29 member farmers. UMCOR supported the startup activities of the co-op, providing it with a small grant to cover the first six months of administrative expenses, including state registration, stamp acquisition expenses, and other administrative costs.
Within the scope of UMCOR’s program, Getap Cooperative also received agro-machinery, including a tractor, a mounted mower, a pickup baler, and other tools. UMCOR organized trainings on cooperative management, production, harvest pre-processing, and marketing for the co-op members and also gave them the opportunity to watch training films produced by UMCOR’s Mobile Extension Team.
Samvel benefited not only from participating in all the activities organized for cooperative members but, also, from the agricultural services that were provided to member farmers at a reduced price.
Now Samvel is able to work his land using the knowledge and skills he gained from the trainings. He also has access to cooperative services and modern agricultural equipment, and is able to successfully market the products he grows.
Getap Agricultural Cooperative now has 58 member farmers, each with their own success stories that inspire the whole community.
Your gift to Armenia Emergency, UMCOR Advance #250225, supports programs like this one in Armenia.
*Anna Karapetyan is a program assistant with UMCOR Armenia.