By Emil Danielyan
The European Union has allocated a further one million Euros ($900,000) in emergency aid for Armenian farmers still reeling from the severe drought of 2000, the EU office in Yerevan announced on Monday.
The assistance, mostly in the form of seeds and fertilizers, will be distributed to some 6,000 subsistence farming households in the country’s northern and southeastern regions, the European Commission’s branch office said in a statement.
It is the Commission’s second aid package to the drought-stricken Armenian farmers. The Brussels-based executive sent 900,000 Euros worth of potato and wheat seeds last April, at the start of the spring planting period. This year it will also provide training to the beneficiaries “with a view to restoring the normal agricultural cycle and preventing a rural exodus.”
“Agricultural production has been badly hit, particularly in the South, with reduced yields of wheat, milk, fruit and honey,” the EU statement said. “Pasture growth has also been affected resulting in shortages of fodder for animals.”
The Armenian government estimates the total damage caused by the drought at $100 million. In September 2000, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian appealed to the international community for emergency aid, citing a “serious threat to the country’s food security.”
The ministry of agriculture announced in late November that the agricultural sector has largely recovered from the drought in 2001 and will increase its production by ten percent in year-on-year terms.