Armenian farmers are learning to use digital platforms to access markets.
Armenia, like most of the countries in the world, was affected by healthcare, economic and financial consequences of COVID-19. The pandemic struck the country in early spring of 2020, just the time to begin the farming activities.
Karen Gabrielyan is a farmer living in Mrgashat village of Armavir marz, Republic of Armenia.
Karen lives with his 80 years old parents, his wife, son and son’s family – all together 8 people. They do farming, own 3.5 ha of land, where they grow apricots, cherries, sunflower, wheat, asparagus.
Karen is a scientist-agronomist, has graduated from the Armenian Agricultural Institute, and is a very active participant of FAO trainings/seminars. He never stops learning, tries new things, and teaches others.
Karen was one of the first farmers who started planting asparagus in Armenia back in 1998, when very few people had even heard about the plant. He knew it would be difficult at the beginning to sell a less known and less popular product, but he decided to give a try, starting from only 300 sqm. Now the farmer grows asparagus on 3500 sqm field.
As Karen mentions, COVID-19 has not changed his life to worse.
“We learnt to live with the reality and continued to work, grow, sustain”, says Karen. “Hardships unite people, make them stronger and smarter. That is how I learnt to use digital platforms to sell our produce for example.”
Before the spread of coronavirus, Karen and most of the farmers in rural areas of the country sold their produce in their local markets or provided bigger quantities to supermarkets in Yerevan. Now that there are restrictions in movement, Karen decided to try Facebook as a marketing platform. Having about 5000 friends in the virtual world, it wasn’t very difficult for him to find buyers.
“I have more customers now than I had before. I even have product deficit sometimes, as day by day more people want to buy the asparagus, or cherries and apricots that I grow”, mentions Karen smiling. “I have made friends with some of my regular customers already, we go hiking together, or do other activities, of course, keeping all required safety measures”.
He thinks to continue using e-agriculture tools and possibilities even after the situation with COVID-19 evolves to the better.
Karen does not stop here, as a real food hero, he has many interesting and long-term goals yet to achieve, one of the most creative of which – the development of agritourism in his home-region.
Our world needs more and more Karens to have better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.