US Agency for International Development, Coca‑Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Armenia and UNDP’s Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program joined their efforts to reconstruct Hayanist community’s irrigation system, rehabilitating more than 40 hectares of agricultural land.
Head of Hayanist community Balabek Sarkisyan notes with great pleasure that thanks to the project, the flow of emigration from the community has dropped by 50-60%, and the life of the Hayanist community dweller has improved.
“Farmer’s life depends on agriculture. If he doesn’t cultivate his land and does not have irrigation water, he starts thinking about emigration. Thanks to this irrigation system, the resident of Hayanist is finally able to cultivate the lands that have been idle for two decades for the first time and earn his daily bread,” mentions the head of the community.
Armenia feeds on the Ararat Valley harvest, he says and adds that it is a crime to leave even a small piece of land without cultivation and irrigation water.
In fact, decreasing groundwater reserves and the uncontrolled use of the artesian water by fish farms has left some 30 communities in the Ararat and Armavir provinces without reliable access to drinking or irrigation water. But it seems that the solution has been found: Hayanist is the first community, where the irrigation of the community lands is carried out by using the return water of nearby fish farms.
"The project helped us to partially resist the challenges of the saline and degrading lands in the valley," says Sarkisyan.
According to him, the water of a number of fish farms is wasted, spilling into Araks and reaching Turkey, whereas we can irrigate dozens of hectares by these waters.
This year, the villagers that are the beneficiaries of the irrigation system have successfully sold their crops, mainly in the Malatia-Sebastia administrative district and Hovtashat village.
"There were cases when villagers immediately sold the harvest on the village road without spending extra money on transportation," says head of Hayanist village.
The community has more than 300 hectares of land and currently only 150 hectares is being cultivated. Balabek Sarkisyan hopes that the program will be continuous and there will be no area in the community left idle.