The National Strategy for Sustainable Use and Development of Farm Animal Genetic Resources in the Republic of Armenia
Animal production in the Republic of Armenia seriously suffered during the transition period of the 1990s. The number of animals and levels of animal production decreased sharply, not only because the purchasing power of the population fell, but also because of a decline in fodder production. The use of artificial insemination in cattle fell sharply and centralized farms and their associated breeding programmes were abandoned. Core breeding stocks have been distributed to private individuals, many of whom are not experienced in livestock production. This has led to a deterioration of 25 to 30 percent in their performance.
The Government of Armenia is making considerable efforts to support livestock development and meet modern standards. However, due to the long technical and scientific isolation of the country, there is a shortage of expertise in all aspects of modern animal breeding and husbandry. For this reason, the Government of Armenia submitted a request for FAO assistance.
Following an exploratory mission, a TCPF project (TCP/ARM/3101- Component 8) to prepare a national strategy for the sustainable use and development of animal genetic resources in the Republic of Armenia was approved.
To prepare the National Strategy for Sustainable Use and Development of Farm Animal Genetic Resources, the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture appointed a ministerial task force led by the head of the Department of Animal Husbandry. The task force included representatives of the Administration of Pedigree Stock Breeding, the Division of Counting Farm Animals, the Livestock-Breeding and Veterinary Scientific Center State CJSC, the Farmers’ National Association of Armenia, the Armenian State Agrarian University and the extension service. It was supported by national and international consultants as well as by FAO officers from the FAO Representation in Armenia, the Regional Office in Budapest and Headquarters.
After the inception workshop, the task force held three working meetings to draft the strategy document. It also commissioned review studies on the following three subjects:
- Armenian policy and legal framework for improvement of animal genetic resources;
- Socio-economic and technical characterization of livestock production systems in Armenia;
- Armenian farm animal genetic resources (cattle, sheep and pigs) and options for their development.
The task force sought the views of several additional stakeholders and experts and incorporated them into the strategy document. A second national workshop was scheduled for further consultation and endorsement, but unfortunately it could not take place due to budgetary constrains.
The National Strategy for Sustainable Use and Development of Farm Animal Genetic Resources in the Republic of Armenia is a follow-up to the Agricultural Sustainable Development Strategy (2004–2015). The Strategy emphasizes the necessity of fully supplying the local market with fresh milk and dairy products, eggs, poultry, mutton and about 80 percent supply of beef and pork products. Great importance is attached to the genetic improvement of cattle, sheep and pig breeds as a decisive component of livestock development. The strategy details measures for the establishment of a modern breeding programme, which would be based on the private ownership of livestock, and the participation of farmers and livestock owners, with a supportive role for the state and its institutions. A project proposal for the development of a breeding programme for Caucasian Brown cattle in the Republic of Armenia is presented in the Annex as a first step in the implementation of the strategy.