By Atom Markarian
The director-general of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Jacques Diouf, visited Yerevan on Friday to discuss its ongoing assistance programs which Armenian leaders said have benefited the country’s struggling agricultural sector.
Meeting with Diouf, President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian praised the UN agency’s decade-long involvement in Armenia, saying they hope that it will continue in the future. Kocharian said FAO activities “fully correspond” to his government’s agricultural priorities.
According to Agriculture Minister David Lokian, the first and foremost of those priorities is to phase out imports of wheat on which Armenia continues to rely heavily. Lokian’s ministry estimates that Armenian farmers will meet two thirds of their country’s wheat needs this year due to unusually good yields of the crop.
Diouf said the bumper harvest results not only from favorable weather conditions but also a $700,000 program to combat locusts and rodents which has been financed by FAO. He said he discussed with Lokian the implementation of other FAO programs worth $2 million.