Mutual Visits to Fruit-Drying Farms
Funded by HEKS-EPER (Switzerland), the Horticulture Market Development Project (HMDP) in Vayots Dzor and Gegharkunik Marzes of Armenia is implemented jointly by Shen and Syunik-Development NGOs. These two regions have the potential for the development of the fruit sector․ If shortcomings of the sector are eliminated, the fruit value chain can have a significant economic impact on the development of communities.
On this occasion, on September 16, we organized a mutual visit to the fruit-drying farms of Armavir Province. The main purpose of the visit was to show the current situation, opportunities, and prospects of the development of the dried fruit value chain through large and medium farms engaged in the production of dried fruits.
The 24 participants of the visit were the representatives of the marketing group of Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor regions, fruit-producing farmers, representatives of marketing groups engaged in fruit preservation and fruit-drying farmers. The participants visited two farms operating in Armavir: "Susanna Hakobyan" and "Garik Hakobyan" private enterprises.
“Susanna Hakobyan” Private Enterprise had started its activity about four years ago. Having orchards in the Armavir region and selling fresh fruits to large fruit-exporting companies, constantly faced problems, as buyers bought only selected fruits, and selling second- or third-grade fruits was quite difficult. This led the family to produce dried fruit and vodka.
During the mutual visit, Taron և Susanna Hakobyans presented the whole production chain, starting from storage: sorting, washing, smoking, drying, and after drying sorting, storage and sale. The participants learned which types of dried fruits are in greater demand in the market got acquainted with the types of dryers, the cost they add to the value of dried fruits, the difference between solar and electric dryers, and other details.
Afterward, the participants toured the entire factory, got acquainted with other equipment, and visited the refrigeration facility, where fresh fruits and ready products were stored. In the end, they visited the vodka distillery, which has been working 24 hours a day since spring, making a variety of fruit vodkas sold in the local market and high-class restaurants.
Then participants were in the processing factory belonging to "Garik Hakobyan" Private Enterprise. They started their activity in 1999. It had quite a lot of experience, a large number of employees, and made a large volume of procurements.
The approaches of this organization differed from the others in terms of working style, having its unique position in the whole region. “Garik Hakobyan” Private Entrepreneur provides equipment, financing, education to small farms, and as a result, buys the produced dried fruits. This provides an opportunity for farmers to add value to their fruits or vegetables. Thus, many farmers are working with the organization. The list of countries to be shipped in this economy is also diverse: they produce more than 25 varieties of dried fruits and sell them in more than 30 countries.
The participants were excited about the mutual visit because, besides the knowledge gained and the ins and outs of running the farms, the presence of such entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to build relationships in the future. Here the participants were able to see that it is possible to develop any business on their own.