Republic of Armenia

SUMMARY

After becoming independent in 1991, Armenia suffered a difficult transition to a market economy. Factors such as the 1989-94 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, earthquakes and droughts further affected the socio-economic situation. Agricultural reforms implemented after independence did not succeed in enhancing the sector's low productivity. Despite economic growth over the past eight years, the combined effects of mass impoverishment, rising unemployment and declining access to public services have led to a decline in the quality of life. Trends indicate that poverty could become structural.

Armenia is a low income food deficit country. Although food supply and consumption statistics indicate that the dietary energy supply is low, not meeting population energy requirements, there is a very high prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults. This discrepancy could be explained by the fact that a substantial proportion of production is self-consumed by farmer households and does not appear in supply statistics. 

The diet is rich in carbohydrates as cereals, starchy roots and sweeteners provide more than two thirds of the energy. The food diversification index remains low. While consumption of meat and fish is low, that of milk and eggs as well as fruit and vegetables, is substantial.

While breastfeeding is common, many infants are not exclusively breastfed and the duration of breastfeeding is short. Moreover, bottle-feeding is frequent. Efforts to promote breastfeeding have been very successful but further improvements are needed.

As a consequence of widespread and increasing food insecurity and a decline in access to quality health services, stunting of preschool children is not declining. School-age children and young adolescents are both stunted and wasted. At the same time overweight is emerging among all age groups. The double burden of malnutrition persistent undernutrition together with overnutrition is affecting both the preschool and school-age children. Overnutrition is highly prevalent among adult women. This nutrition transition will trigger a rise in the incidence of chronic diseases which will impose further stress on an already strained health system.

Micronutrient deficiencies are still very common. Prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders was still quite high among women during the last decade. A programme of salt iodization provides adequately iodized salt to most households but coverage is still insufficient in some regions. Iron deficiency anemia is highly prevalent among women of childbearing age and young children. Strategies for combating iron deficiency anemia are urgently needed.

© FAO 2010