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UNDP in Armenia through its “Integrated Support to Rural Development: Building Resilient Communities” project, funded by the Russian Federation, has worked to ensure balanced development for the regions of Armenia, through an integrated socio-economic approach. The project has contributed to communities’ economic sustainability through empowering women, enhanced production capability and enterprise development, including small-scale contemporary agro-processing units.

As a result of community meetings organised in a small village of Chinari in Tavush region, a group of 7 women came up with the idea of establishing a vegetable seedling nursery, in cooperation with the Scientific Center for Vegetable and Technical Crops. They decided to collaborate and develop the special seedlings themselves, which would later be distributed to other regions of Armenia and ensure successful crop. None of these 7 women had formal employment before, but instead spent days working in their small gardens growing vegetables. They did not have the favorable conditions for growing more, and with the unpredictable weather conditions, this could sometimes go array. However, the partnership has not only created jobs for them and their neighbors, but increases chances for a more successful harvest, thus more vegetables and more income.

The willingness to improve their lives, do good for the community and hard work brought these 7 women together, 3 of whom are widowed and are the sole breadwinners for their families. To the question how this project has helped the community, Olga Sagohyan, director of the “Chinari Seedling Women’s Agricultural Cooperation” gave a heartwarming answer. She said that even though they are all from the same village, this is the first time a group of women have come together to work and create something better. This project has helped to bring out the community spirit and empower these women to believe in their future. They’re optimistic that with dedicated hard work and efforts the project will help create more jobs, making their village proud of their daughters.

After the cooperative was established, UNDP helped to build a 500 sq. meter greenhouse, where up to 30,000 seedlings can be planted. As a result, 75 greenhouses in neighboring 17 communities will benefit from this venture. The seedling process will start taking place after final details are finalized regarding gas and electricity and is expected to cover 1/3 of vegetable seedling demand of the region.

This is a remarkable achievement for women of Chinari and a step forward for the community. Thanks to UNDP in Armenia and the gender- responsive criteria of the project, UNDP has empowered these women to take the lead in their daily life and create more for themselves and their families, which they were previously unable to do.

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