Exports of Armenian agricultural products soared by more than 55 percent in physical terms in the first half of this year, reflecting a bumper harvest of apricots and other fruits, according to official statistics released on Monday.
Data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that Armenia exported just over 40,000 metric tons of fruits and vegetables, up from 25,700 tons in the same period last year.
Apricots accounted for more than one-third of this figure. Their first-half sales abroad were up more than tenfold year on year, the official figures show.
Armenian apricot production collapsed from almost 90,000 tons in 2013 to just 8,000 tons in 2014, owing to a devastating spring blizzard. Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian predicted last month it will surpass the 2013 level this year thanks to very favorable weather conditions.
Karapetian said that Armenia’s recent accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) paved the way for “large-scale exports” of apricots and other agricultural produce to Russia, their main market abroad.
They 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. On the other hand, export revenue from Armenian farming output will be dragged down by last year’s sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble.
Although the Ministry of Agriculture did not estimate the monetary value of the agricultural exports, the rapid growth of their physical volume is certain to boost Armenia’s overall agricultural output. With agriculture generating roughly one-quarter of Gross Domestic Product, that could in turn reflect positively on the country’s broader macroeconomic performance.
The Armenian government has insisted in recent weeks that the domestic economy will continue to grow this year despite spillover effects of a recession in Russia. The International Monetary Fund, for its part, has forecast zero growth for the country in 2015.