Rural communities in Armenia are suffering from deprivations caused by poverty, moreover the income generating opportunities in the rural areas are scarce due to the environmental risks. With the Support of Russian Federation, the “Integrated Support to Rural Development: Building Resilient Communities”, has been implemented in bordering communities of Tavush region of the Republic of Armenia. The aim of the project is to capitalize on the skills of people and help them use what they already know and do it in their day-to-day life, in order to create alternative sources of income.
Tavush is famous for its homemade winemaking. Tatevik Mkhitaryan, who works at a local school in Berd, now helps her father to run and expand his winemaking business. Her school salary was not enough to support their household and her father’s winemaking, albeit popular in the region, did not attract enough buyers. After UNDP provided them with the necessary equipment to make and bottle their wine, creating wider sales and marketing opportunities, Tatevik has been able to support her father by taking care of the technical part such as the bottling and the labelling. Not only has Tatevik been given an opportunity of an alternative source of income, she’s also used her knowledge and experience to network and has been able to help her father in expanding the family business.
Tatevik and her father are not the only ones: with the help of UNDP more families are now focusing on expanding their winemaking business, with considerable involvement from women in the families. Overall, 9 households, 3 of them women-led: 3 community clusters also joined to produce wine in 2017.
Similarly, Eliza and Rafik, who after their retirement dedicated their life to agriculture and winemaking have been given the opportunity to professionalise their winemaking business. With her health issues Eliza was unable to continue her employment at the school she was working, however thanks to the UNDP she now has full-time employment she really enjoys. She is equally involved not only in the decision-making part but works hard alongside her husband in the wine orchards as well. With the equipment UNDP has provided they were able to make and bottle the wine and have even written a business plan aimed at exporting the wine to Russia. She is also taking care of her 90-year old father-in-law as her children are abroad. Rafik and Eliza hope to expand their business to the point where they become so successful that their children will come back to the village and work alongside them.
As mentioned earlier, UNDP supported production, by providing the modern equipment for special bottling, packaging and labelling. First 900 bottles were produced between 2017-18 under a unified “Tavush” brand and sold locally. Future plans include marketing and distributing the “Tavush” wine across Armenia, with the vision of exporting this at a later stage.
This project has not only helped families to do what they love doing in a more professional and profitable way but has opened many new doors for people in Tavush. If more regions follow this example of capitalizing on their expertise, then sustainable development in rural areas is bound to happen.