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FAO addresses challenges of the seeds sector in the region, including Armenia

11 May 2020, Yerevan, Armenia – A new technical cooperation project on making agriculture more resilient to climate change is about to start in Armenia with a project document signed by FAO and the Ministry of Economy of Armenia. The two-year project covers Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and North Macedonia.

All four countries are facing problems of adaptation and development of independent, diversified agricultural structures. One limiting factor is that the majority of seeds, and other input materials, come from outside, thus, farmers depend on imported seeds. They cannot yet fully benefit from the advantages of quality seeds due to a combination of factors, including hampered seed production, distribution, and quality assurance systems, as well as bottlenecks caused by a lack of good seed policy on key issues.

“Armenia, similarly to Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, and Tajikistan, is facing similar risks due to climate change, and the agricultural production of the country strongly depends on irrigation, weather conditions, proper genetic resources, soil and water management,” said Tania Santivanez, FAO agricultural officer.

To address the main problems as described above, the project in Armenia foresees improvements in planting material and seed certification system; laboratory testing for quality control; developing and adapting methodologies for testing new varieties.

Agriculture in Armenia, especially the seed sector, is facing several challenges. The project addresses the most urgent ones, including the lack of national breeds resulting in the dependence on seed import, well-established and trustworthy seed and planting material certification scheme, access and knowledge of high quality and climate tolerant seeds and planting material for farmers, and low awareness on the importance of the management of plant genetic resources. Farmers often use their own seeds, which carry risks of uncertain production outcomes and disease vulnerabilities. These issues contribute to the increase of the vulnerability of the country’s agriculture to the climate change.

“Moreover, in the context of the COVID-19 era, implementation of the project is very relevant due to the project will support strengthening the national seed system as one of the main pillars of crop production and food security”, added Raimund Jehle, FAO Representative to Armenia.

This project is in line with the Government’s recently approved strategy for sustainable agricultural development in Armenia; improving seed and planting material certification system is one of the prioritized actions there. The interventions will be integrated into the ongoing development actions to ensure the sustainability of the process beyond the project duration. They are tailored to the needs of the government, to build the capacity of government officials at the national and regional levels. These interventions are also in line with the current government policies and strategies.