Armenia’s agricultural sector is on course to expand at a double-digit rate for a second consecutive year, Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian said on Tuesday.
Government data cited by Karapetian shows Armenian agricultural output rising by 10.8 percent year on year, to 431.2 billion drams ($1.1 billion), in the first eight months of 2012.
“This trend will continue until the end of the year. We have progress in all sectors,” Karapetian told journalists after inaugurating a new agricultural enterprise in the northwestern Shirak province.
Favorable weather conditions have again been instrumental in this performance, translating into sharp rises in the domestic production of fruits and vegetables. Their retail prices this year have been significantly below the 2011 levels.
According to Karapetian, Armenian vegetable exports reached 21,500 tons in January-August, compared with 16,800 tons in the full year 2011.
The minister said that Armenia’s wheat output will also rise this year despite lower yields blamed by the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers on an excessive spring rainfall. He explained that the increase will be achieved thanks to a 20 percent expansion of the country’s wheat fields.
The Armenian government has pledged to help to increase domestic wheat production by more than 50 percent by 2014 as part of its strategy of boosting the country’s food security.
“We now meet our domestic demand in basic foodstuffs by an average of 60 percent,” said Karapetian. “We have a strategic program to raise this figure to 80 percent by 2020.”
The minister further reported modest growth in cattle breeding, which is the principle form of agricultural activity in much of the mountainous country. Rural poverty is particularly widespread in those areas.
Agriculture accounts for roughly one-fifth of Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product.