Azatan, Shirak region, 22 March 2022 – Today, UNDP and partners officially launched the new “Maqi” genetic centre for pedigree sheep breeding in Azatan community, Shirak region. This initiative is implemented in the framework of the EU Green Agriculture Initiative in Armenia (EU-GAIA) project, funded by the European Union in Armenia and co-funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation. The project is jointly implemented by the Austrian Development Agency and UNDP in Armenia.
The main objective of the project is to contribute to the realization of shared and balanced inclusive growth in Lori, Tavush, and Shirak regions of Armenia through boosting green agriculture and enhancing local added value.
Arman Khojoyan, RA Deputy Minister of Economy, Tigran Gabrielyan, RA Deputy Minister of Economy, Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, Silja Kasmann, Deputy Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Armenia, Klaus Kapper, Head of Office, Austrian Development Agency, Georgi Avetisyan, Head of RA Food Safety Inspection Body, Nazeli Baghdasaryan, Governor of Shirak region, welcomed the participants of the event, which included key stakeholders, sheep sector beneficiaries, farmers, and media.
“This center is especially important for the development of sheep sector in Armenia as it is the first of its kind in entire South Caucasus region for artificial insemination of sheep. The goal of the center is to cultivate purebred sheep farming practices in Armenia aimed at improvement of local sheep genetics,” said Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia.
Silja Kasmann, Deputy Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Armenia mentioned that “Through this project, the EU together with UNDP and ADA, is supporting Armenian farmers to achieve higher yields, diversify production, become more self-reliant and improve the sheep value chain. “Maqi” sheep breeding center will also unite the sheep farms into networks; look for best practices as well as common marketing and sales strategies.”
At least 40 sheep breeders, who are EU GAIA project beneficiary, as well as other farmers from all over Armenia and neighbouring countries will have access to brand new services in the centre, including veterinary services, artificial insemination, and pregnancy diagnosis. Maintenance of purebred properties of the newly introduced sheep breeds in the region, such as Blanche du Massif and Noir du Velay, is another key function of the genetic centre. EU GAIA project has already delivered some key successes in these northern regions of Armenia, in particular more than 350 beneficiaries were trained on sheep breeding, herb and legume cultivation practices, as well as more than 400 heads of new efficient meat breed sheep were imported from France and distributed among beneficiary farmers.