Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian on Friday brushed aside farmers’ complaints about the quality of so-called “elite seeds” which the Armenian government had distributed to them in an effort to increase wheat production in the country.
The government purchased 1,000 metric tons of such seeds from Russia in 2010 and a similar amount last year as part of a four-year plan to reduce Armenia’s heavy dependence on grain imports. Farmers receiving them are obliged to supply the state with twice as many seeds after their harvests.
Armenia - Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian at a press conference in Yerevan, 24Aug2012.
Many of some 150 farmers that bought such seeds in 2011 have complained about poor yields throughout this year, saying that they will struggle to pay for what was supposed to be government assistance. They have said that the seeds have proved to be inadequate.
Karapetian strongly denied that, saying that the worse-than-expected wheat harvest in 2012 results from bad weather or the incorrect use of the seeds. “What they were saying [earlier this year] was not quite true because we have high yields today,” he told reporters. “Those who cultivated land well got [high yields.]”
“The same type of seeds were imported to the country last year and this year. How is it that last year saw a better harvest?” said Karapetian.
Armenian wheat output rose by roughly 20 percent last year owing to relatively favorable weather conditions. One of Karapetian’s deputies, Samvel Galstian, said earlier this month that this year’s excessive rainfall is translating into significantly lower wheat yields. Still, he said the overall 2012 wheat output will be close to the 2011 level because the total area of the country’s grain fields expanded by over 20 percent to around 100,000 hectares last fall.