One year after a spring snowstorm destroyed many of its fruit crops, Armenia will reap a bumper harvest of apricots, a major agricultural product, and export a large part of it to Russia this summer, Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian said on Friday.
Karapetian met with senior executives of food exporting and processing firms to discuss their unfolding wholesale purchases from tens of thousands of apricot farmers mainly concentrated in the Ararat Valley south and west of Yerevan.
“We expect a plentiful harvest this year,” the Armenian Agriculture Ministry quoted him as telling them. “Harvesting work is already underway and processing companies must be prepared to properly organize [apricot] purchases.”
Karapetian pledged to assist them in that endeavor, the ministry said in a statement.
Armenian apricot output collapsed from almost 90,000 metric tons in 2013 to just 8,000 tons last year due to a blizzard that swept through the country in late March 2014. The heavy snowfall accompanied by freezing temperatures killed early blossoms on many fruit trees in the Ararat Valley.
According to the ministry statement, Karapetian predicted that this year’s apricot harvest will exceed the 2013 level. He said that Armenia’s recent accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) paved the way for their “large-scale exports” to Russia.
According to Agriculture Ministry data, Armenian apricot exports nearly doubled in 2013, reaching a record-high level of about 24,000 tons. More than 85 percent of them went to Russia and another 11 percent to neighboring Georgia.
The 2015 exports of this and other Armenian agricultural products will also be facilitated by a Russian ban on food imports from the United States and Europe which Moscow imposed last August in retaliation for Western economic sanctions.
But this might be offset by last year’s sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble, which made Armenian products considerably more expensive in the Russian market. Armenian brandy and wine manufactures were hit particularly hard. A nearly 20 percent rally in the ruble’s value against the U.S. dollar in January-April 2015 should cut their losses, however.