Armenia’s agricultural output rose by nearly 12 percent to 931.4 billion drams ($1.94 billion) in January-November 2015, greatly contributing to continued economic growth in the country, Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian said on Monday.
The official figure is equivalent more than one-fifth of Gross Domestic Product which the Armenian government expects to increase by at least 3 percent in real terms this year.
Favorable weather conditions appear to have been instrumental in the agricultural sector’s strong performance. In particular, they translated into bumper harvests of apricots, grapes and other fruits and vegetables.
In Karapetian’s words, Armenian farmers harvested almost 370,000 metric tons of wheat, up by 9 percent from 2014. For the first time in decades, Armenia satisfied more than half of its domestic demand for wheat, he said.
The minister also reported a 65 percent surge in the physical volume of Armenian fruit and vegetable exports, the bulk of them going to Russia. They were clearly helped by a Russian ban on food imports from Europe and the United States imposed last year.
Much of this sharp rise has been offset by the dramatic depreciation of the Russian ruble, however. Armenian wine and brandy companies, the most important buyers of domestically grown grapes, have been hit particularly hard.
Karapetian insisted that despite their financial troubles most of the distilleries increased their grape purchases from farmers this fall. Many farmers complain, however, that they have still not been paid for their produce. Some have even staged protests, threatening to block highways in the wine-growing Ararat Valley south and west of Yerevan.
Karapetian downplayed the protests, saying that more than 82 percent of the grape farmers have already received payments. “There are still debts, but there are understandings between farmers and producers on when they will be paid off,” he told reporters.