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FAO helps address land abandonment in Armenia

More than one-third of agricultural land in Armenia is out of use. Countering land abandonment is one of the top priorities in the country’s agricultural sector. An FAO workshop today marks the start of a project supporting the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia in addressing the problem of abandoned agricultural land.

The workshop brings together about 30 representatives and specialists from the Ministry of Economy, Cadastre Committee, Armenian National Agrarian University, extension services, and regional and village administrations.

“The purpose of today’s workshop is to launch project activities and to introduce it to the main partners with a role to play in the implementation of a new land policy framework,” noted FAO land tenure officer Morten Hartvigsen.

Similar to many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the development of rural areas and the economy as a whole is challenged by small farm sizes and excessive land fragmentation, originating from land reforms in the 1990s. In the years after independence, some farms became bigger, yet many others began to shrink. As of 2014, almost 60 percent of holdings had less than one hectare of agricultural land.

Based on an analysis conducted earlier, FAO proposed a conceptual framework for policy, legal, and institutional-level measures. This establishment of a new institution, called the Land Agency, would then be responsible for formulating and implementing land policies and land market regulation.

The one-year project will particularly support the development of a legal structure to empower the Land Agency and enable a land management toolbox. This will provide a greater focus and support to the “mediation of lease” between landowners and tenants with lease-related guarantees. This instrument will be piloted in Armavir region in western Armenia. If proved successful, the approach will become a model for further replication in the entire country.

“The issue of land abandonment is a complex, multi-dimensional process with interlinked economic, environmental, and social factors causing it,” said Hartvigsen. “The multiple causality of land abandonment requires a coordinated policy response between land policy and other related policies, like agriculture and economics.”

The cooperation agreement between the Ministry and FAO was signed by the Deputy Minister of Economy, Artak Kamalyan, and FAO Representative in Armenia, Raimund Jehle.

27 November 2019, Yerevan, Armenia

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