Paul J. Strasberg, program manager for the Caucasus Agricultural Development Initiative (CADI) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, D.C., visited three FCA member-borrowers during a one-day tour to Ararat and Vayots Dzor marzes. The Feb. 15, 2010 farm stops were part of Strasberg’s first visit to Armenia.
His first visit was to the tomato growing operation in H. Hovhanisyan’s greenhouse in Avshar village. While visiting the farm, Strasberg learned about growing and harvesting tomatoes, as well as their marketing.
Strasberg’s second visit was to the Simonyan brothers’ dried fruit operation, winery, vineyards, and apricot and peach orchards in Areni village. He observed the fruit sun-drying set-up, toured the winery and saw the first tractor leased by FCA in September 2009 during a visit by Leland “Lee” Strom, Farm Credit Administration, Washington, D.C.
His last visit of the day was to Vayk city and the Vayq Group CJSC winery owned by Ashot Zakaryan. The company has its own wine factory, 430 square meters of wine cellars, storage areas. Vayq Group also has apricot, apple, plum, peach and cherry orchards. Much of the fruit is preserved in the company’s drying operations.
Strasberg said the tour was very educational and enjoyable. He now has a much better idea of FCA’s lending and leasing programs that aim to contribute to the development of rural Armenia.