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FAO in Armenia

Armenia at a glance

Armenia is a landlocked country with limited natural resources, covering an area of 29 800 km2. It is located in the Caucasus region. In the north and east it borders the Republic of Georgia and Azerbaijan, in the west and south Turkey and Iran. 

Armenia is essentially made up of high rolling plateaus and wide river valleys, together with sharp mountain ridges from the southern edge of the Caucasus range. The average elevation is about 1 650 m. The climate is continental with hot summers and cold winters and annual rainfall varying between 300 mm in the low-lying Ararat plains to about 600 mm in the rest of the country. 

The greatest part of Armenia is mountainous (about 1 800 meters above sea level), while one-third is pastureland. A land of rugged mountains and extinct volcanoes, its highest peak is Mount Aragats, 4 095 m. There are more than 200 streams and rivers in Armenia, none navigable, however, because of their steep descents and rapid currents. The Armenian countryside also boasts some 100 small, but picturesque lakes. One of the largest mountain lakes in the world, Lake Sevan, covers an area of 1 400 square kilometers and is about 2 000 meters above sea level. 

The capital city, Yerevan, lies on the Hrazdan river, and is home to some 1.2 million people. 

At present, the agricultural sector remains essential for the economy of the country. The sector represents almost 20% of GDP, and employs about 40% of the total number of employed population. Armenia has an agricultural sector composed of a majority of practically subsistence small farms with small and fragmented plots which are mainly utilized for subsistence agriculture, and therefore have little link to markets, limited resources and feeble growth potential. As an average, around 97.5% of the gross agricultural product is produced by the private sector (mainly farmers and commercial entities). Around 62.4% of agricultural output is generated from crops and 37.6% from livestock. 

According to official data, the private sector owns about 25% of agricultural land, around 45% is under community ownership, and 30% belongs to the State. Also, more than 30% of land is not used (for reasons that include proximity to dangerous or mined zones, lands remote from settlements, etc.), which results in a low level of cultivation of arable land. 

According to MoA data, the level of self-sufficiency in the country in terms of most relevant food products is around 60%. This percentage mainly corresponds to potatoes, fruits, vegetables, milk, sheep meat and eggs. Wheat, legumes, sugar, oil, and other types of meat are still on a low level of self-sufficiency. Armenia relies heavily on grain imports, especially cereals.

The livestock sector is dominated by cattle and small ruminants and it is based on traditional husbandry systems; few animals per herd and close association of different animal species, which makes extremely difficult the control of animal diseases. 

The targeted development of agriculture will contribute to an increase in food sufficiency and an improvement in living standards for the entire nation. Viticulture and fruit growing are the priority sub-sectors of Armenian agriculture. Armenians have always favored viticulture. The fame of Armenian "sun-flavored" cognacs (brandy) and wines is largely attributable to the special quality of Armenian grape varieties. Furthermore, the agro-ecological conditions, the geographical position of Armenia and the multipurpose use of vegetables have led to a great diversity of vegetable varieties.