Prime Minister Karen Karapetian expressed concern on Friday at a drop in Armenia’s agricultural production this year, instructing several government agencies to look into its causes.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), the agricultural sector, which generates about one-fifth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, contracted by just over two percent in the first seven months of this year. Karapetian said the negative trend sharply accelerated in August, with agricultural output down by as much as 25 percent from August 2016.
“Recent months’ statistical data on agriculture are a cause for concern, and there is therefore a need to expedite an analysis of gross production calculated in the sector,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan.
Karapetian instructed the Armenian ministers of agriculture, economic development and local government as well as provincial governors and the NSS to submit within two weeks a detailed “analysis” on the causes of the sector’s poor performance. He argued that agriculture and construction are the only sectors of the Armenian economy that have shrunk so far this year.
“We need to really understand figures on agriculture,” added the premier. “We are going to address that very carefully.”
Armenia has experienced unusually high temperatures and a lack of rainfall in the last few months. Farmers across the country have complained that the drought has adversely affected their crop yields. NSS figures show that nationwide farming output fell by more than 7 percent in January-July.
The NSS has also reported that despite the decline in agriculture the Armenian economy grew by around 5 percent in the first half of this year. Economic growth in the country stood at just 0.2 percent in 2016.