Bjni Fortress

Tavush, Kotayk, 30 October 2018 – New tourist destinations and community-based projects are  launched in Tavush and Kotayk regions with participation of high-level officials of the Governments of Armenia, the Russian Federation, UNDP in Armenia, and representatives of mass media.

These initiatives are part of the five-year “Integrated Support to Rural Development: Building Resilient Communities” (ISRD) and three-year ‘’Integrated Rural Tourism Development (IRTD) projects, financed by the Government of the Russian Federation and implemented by UNDP in Armenia, in close partnership with the RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. The ISRD project budget is over USD 5 million and is aimed at increasing income-generation opportunities and supporting rural infrastructure in borderline communities of Tavush region, while the IRTD project budget is USD 3 million and is aimed to develop rural tourism and create income generating opportunities for rural population in all regions of Armenia.

Today, Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Director, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Mariyasin, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Armenia, Vache Terteryan, Acting First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia, Vahe Ghalumyan, Tavush Governor, and representatives of Ministries of Finance and Economic Development of the Russian Federation visited Ditavan, Sarigyugh, Achajur, Khashtarak, Hovk and Bjni villages to see on-site some of the results of implemented projects.

In Ditavan, the ISRD project is supporting local farmers to improve their agricultural practices, helping them to make agriculture more efficient. The guests visited one of the beneficiaries in Ditavan, who has planted a new fruit orchard with the help of the project. This specific land plot is managed by two farmers who have united their lands to jointly plant a fruit orchard. The farmers anticipate their first full harvest in three years, when each tree will produce on average 10 kg of fruit per season. As a measure of introducing new methods of gardening, the project has installed a drip irrigation system. Overall, the project helped 26 beneficiaries in the region to plant over 40 hectares of new fruit orchards, by introducing new crops, such as intensive species of walnuts, as well as seedlings of middle intensity, such as: persimmon, cornelian cherry, hazelnut, fig, pomegranate, nectarine. All beneficiaries have contributed at least 20 percent from their own funds as co-financing is required by the project.

Also, in Ditavan, the IRTD project is implementing a concept of the community-based boutique guesthouse. Almost all communities have abandoned buildings that are possible to renovate and use for community-based rural tourism purposes. This gave a birth to two types of concepts: community-based boutique /guesthouse and community-based decentralized hotel to be owned by the community, outsourced to the private sector, operated by locals on a profit sharing basis. This will not only open job opportunities for community residents but will also attract business to rural areas. The guesthouse will be operating in 2019.

Meanwhile in Sarigyugh, the ISRD project supports local farmers and young entrepreneurs to start local business in their community. The project pays special attention to those young entrepreneurs who are unable to start their own business due to financial difficulties. The delegation visited one of the beneficiaries in Sarigyugh village who has created a bakery with the help of the project. The young beneficiary has recently returned from his military service and, because of lack of any opportunities locally, considered the possibility of migrating to Russia for seasonal work. The project has provided all bakery equipment, while the beneficiary renovated the building and brought it in line to all sanitary standards.

The IRTD project in Achajur is implementing Wine Yard project which will boost wine tourism in the area as it is becoming a very popular type of tourism. The project developed a “Wine Yard” concept which proposes a new culture into the homemade wine production and promotion. Wine Yard assumes that tourists should be introduced and involved in the wine making process, invited to test it and served with food, music and other cultural elements. The “Wine Yard” beneficiaries are mainly villagers with a wine making history. They are provided with trainings, equipment and infrastructure support. The delegation visited one of the beneficiaries in Achajur and enjoyed homemade wine and cheese. The equipment for Achajur’s Wine Yard was provided by ISRD project.

Achajur was followed by Khashtarak, where the ISRD supports community clusters in improving their agricultural machinery needs for a more effective agricultural work. The dilapidated agricultural equipment in the region results in loss of harvest and leaves a lot of land uncultivated. The project provided Khashtarak and Lusahovit community cluster with one combine harvester and one chain tracked tractor. To manage the machinery pool, the project also created a community development fund “Akut” which will operate the machinery pool as well as will initiate various other community development activities.

In Hovk, with the support of the IRTD project, a family rest, tourist camping, and fishing spot was created to boost the villagers interest in tourism as an alternative income source. The road was also renovated to attract tourist buses and locals to visit the site. The technology used for the road construction will keep the road up and running for decades. It is already recognized as one of the best solutions by the regional administration. Here the guests had chance to see the beautiful scenery and enjoy the beautiful resort.

In Bjni (Kotayk region), the Bjni Fortress Artifacts Museum was opened with the financial support of the IRTD project. This place will become a tourist complex which will offer tourists not only a museum, but a gastro spot, pottery center.

These all tourist destinations aim to develop the given region and create income generating opportunities and sustainability in the area.

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UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations UNDP in Armenia was established in March 1993, and supports the government in meeting its development priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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