The declining level of groundwater resources and their uncontrolled use by fish farms have left about 30 communities in Ararat and Armavir regions without a stable supply of drinking and irrigation water. But the solution to the problem seems to have been found.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Coca‑Cola Hellenic Armenia, and the Global Environment Facility's Small Grants Program, implemented by UNDP in Armenia, reconstructed the irrigation system of the Hayanist Community, rehabilitating more than 40 hectares of agricultural land. Hayanist is the first village where irrigation of community land is being carried out by reusing the water of the nearby fish farm.
Today, we can mention with confidence that the program is successful, and the evidence to it is the harvest of about 1.3 tons of fruit from the apricot garden of Hakob Kondzharyan, who is a resident of Hayanist. This number might not sound much, but it should be taken into account that Hakob's garden has given its first harvest after 8 years of break.
"For the first time in the last 8 years I have collected harvest. Before that, my garden was withering. I was caring buckets with water, trying to keep at least some of the trees. Some trees have been damaged irregularly, and I have to plant a new tree. If this water did not exist ... now my garden would be dead, "says the farmer.
He says he hoped to get more fruits, but there was frostbite. "Because of the frostbite, the crop was small, but I got about 1-1.2 tons of good quality, “shalakh” apricot, and the peach crop was well, even the trees were broken because of the weight of the crop."
Hakob insists that if the irrigation problem was not solved, he would leave the village.
"Until solution of the irrigation water issue, I was seriously thinking about leaving the village. I stoped hope that one day the irrigation problem will be solved in Armenia, but fortunately such ideas does not disturb me today. "
There are now about 200 trees on Kondzharyan's 3300 m2 land, of which about 150 are apricots. Talking about future plans, Hakob notes that he can increase the area of the garden, but has to solve the problem of sale first of all.
"I can enlarge the garden, planting trees, but besides, there is a problem of selling products. This year, I gave apricots to one of my friends, they prepared dried fruit. Just see what dried fruit he did! Until I do not solve the problem of sales, I will not think about enlarging my garden. After solving one problem, the other comes out. Before the irrigation issue, I was not worried about the sale, but now it is a serious problem facing me, " says Hayanist resident dreaming of having his own fruit dryer.
Regarding the water from the fish farm, Hakob claims that it is a very good quality of water. He says that lot’s of people think that "the water of the fish farm may affect the taste of the harvest, but it is not real." "The apricot of my garden was very tasty. It should have been tried ... Neighboring villagers are also enjoying it, everyone is happy. No one complains.”
Studies have shown that the groundwater resources in the Ararat Valley are fatly decreasing. Nearly 30 communities in the region are left without drinking and irrigation water.
The pilot project in Hayanist proved that by reusing the waters of the fish farms can solve a number of problems at once - agrarian, ecological and economic. The project analyzed the quality of the fish farms water several times to meet the required water quality standards for irrigation purposes.
Approximately 120 households are beneficiaries of the project. The new system allows irrigation of 40 hectares of non-cultivated community land for 20 years. The project contributed to the collaboration between the community and local business, as well as the rational use of groundwater in the Ararat Valley for upcoming years.