USDA TEAM SURVEYS ARMENIA’S SHEEP BREEDING SECTOR

14 - November - 2010

Sheep breeding sector of Armenia’s agriculture has big potential as the lamb market in the region is constantly growing. With the intention to foster sheep sector growth in Armenia representatives of USDA FAS in cooperation with CARD support con-ducted a sheep sector survey in various marzes of the country on November 9-12, 2010.

The survey team from Washington D.C. headed by Mark Hawthorne, the Branch Chief of USDA FAS, Office of Capacity Building and Development, sheep breeding specialists Dr. Lyle G. McNeal and Prof. C. Kim Chapman from Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture, Utah State University arrived in Armenia in November.

The team met with sheep breeding scientists from Agricultural University of Armenia and visited several regions of the country where they met with NGO representatives of the regions, agricultural cooperative members, and sheep breeding farmers. The survey team also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Yezidi national minority, who are the key role players in sheep breeding sector of agriculture.

The sheep survey team was interested in current state of sheep breeding in Armenia and its development potential. They evaluated current conditions related to sheep grazing, feeding, animal husbandry, and vet services, as well as tried to identify needs for assistance. “The natural environment of Armenia is most suitable for the agro-ecological production of small ruminants (sheep and goats). Perhaps the most important resource, which must be nurtured and encouraged, are the individuals and families that raise the Republic’s sheep and have the basic skills of animal husbandry that must be incorporated and respected in any programs and policies rendered in the near future,” runs the statement of the specialists.

The team also visited ARID goat breeding center in Vayots Dzor region of Armenia where they learnt about the Dairy Goat Breeding Development project which specializes in genetic improvement of goats. This project played a significant role in Dairy Goat Genetics Improvement and can serve a good example for initiating similar projects for Sheep Industry Development.

Both Utah specialists and local sheep breeders believe that the development program is a good initiative to promote this sec-tor in Armenia and place it on a more profitable level for farmers.