24 - May - 2012

Within the framework of USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) funded Food Safety project, training on Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) was initiated and an expert from the USA, Dr. David Picha was invited to conduct the course.

To help farmers enhance their produce handling procedures and practices and to become competitive in the international market, primarily the European market, CARD invited the USAID Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness program (EDMC) to join this initiative.

During his visit, from April 22 to May 1, Dr. Picha visited several orchards, vineyards, cold storage facilities, and exporters. He provided a two-day training course on the GLOBAL GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification, which is a key requirement for enhancing the export potential of Armenian fruits and vegetables and bringing their quality in compliance with internationally accepted rules and norms.  Practical and useful one-day training on the proper post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables was conducted and it highlighted some modern and innovative techniques used in horticulture.

The participants included farmers, representatives from the Agricultural Academy and the Ministry of Agriculture, post-harvest handlers and exporters, as well as a number of NGOs, including CARD.

Dr. Picha believes there are many market opportunities for Armenia’s horticultural products in the international market, but the exports need to be attractive, of high quality, and be part of a consistent supply. He provided recommendations for increasing the export value of the produce, including the introduction of new varieties of crops, particularly the new types of dwarf and densely planted fruit trees, improvement of the post-harvest care and the  introduction of up-to-date cold storage technologies, development of crop-specific production guides for the growers, as well as updating  the existing information and knowledge on the crop cultivation, harvesting, proper storage and distribution techniques.

On the last day Dr. Picha debriefed the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Bruce Donahue, on the implemented activities and future plans, which Mr. Donahue considered to be very applicable and important for the future of the Armenian horticultural sector.

Finally, it should be mentioned that this was the first joint activity between USDA/CARD and USAID EDMC.