From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency David Zadoyan (Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia) (Original language Armenian)

Honourable Mr Chairman, Dear participants and colleagues.

Let me greet all the participants and express my gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the work of such an important event. We consider this Summit very important and hope that our cooperation will be productive.

Armenia is a mountainous, landlocked country with an area of about 30 000 square kilometres with altitudes ranging from 400 to 4 000 meters and a population of 3.7 million areas in mountains and hills. The density of population is 123 per square kilometre. Sixty-nine percent of the population live in the mountainous regions and Armenia is divided into 11 provinces by its administrative structure.

The economic growth of Armenia has depended on its highly educated population and strong entrepreneurial traditions, with limited natural resources. During decades a diversified industrial infrastructure, an agro-industrial sector and a modern transport network were created in Armenia.

Taking into consideration the leading role of agriculture in the social economic development of the Republic of Armenia and the significance of food in the country, the economic reforms were initially implemented in the agrarian sector. The reforms were aimed at creating a stable and productive field, which is regulated by market economy forces.

The agrarian reforms in the country have been carried out after the Declaration of Independence in 1991. In the first stage of reforms, from 1991 to 1993, agricultural land, livestock and other production means were privatized. In the social stage of reforms, after 1994, enterprises and organizations of agricultural supplies and services in the sphere of agricultural production and marketing were privatized.

At present, the Government of Armenia continues the implementation of reforms. Steps are taken to establish and develop the needed infrastructure in agriculture, as well as to create conditions for the intensification of agricultural production.

This is implemented in the following three main ways. First of all, the problem of the establishment of the appropriate infrastructures according to new economic relations and the organization of services is of great importance. In this respect, we have some achievements. The programme of the Centres of Agricultural Service is now developed and being implemented. Agricultural production and technical centres have been established in all the provinces. Secondly, farms are not provided with sufficient cast and the opportunities to expand the processing are limited. Therefore, the provision of credits to farms and the solution of their insurance are of great importance. The third, and most important, orientation is the rapid solution of problems concerning the production and marketing of agricultural products.

In attempting to find solutions to these problems, in the sphere of agricultural products, marketing is of great importance: formation of cooperatives, provision for wholesale agricultural markets, the establishment of infrastructures for the production and marketing of agricultural products on the basis of farmers union.

A number of problems have arisen in the sphere of agriculture. In order to solve these problems it is necessary to undertake a thorough investigation of the agricultural and food complex. Monitoring of all spheres, as well as the development of well-founded projects and their implementation. For this purpose, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia, with the support of FAO, the UN is completing the development of the Strategy on Sustainable Development of Agriculture in the Republic of Armenia Programme. This Programme includes a period before 2010.

At the same time actual steps were taken to establish joint ventures, restart the exiting food and processing enterprises through internal and foreign investments, as well as to develop production with low capacity which can be rapidly adapted to market forces.

The problem of agricultural products and their marketing can be solved by developing international economic relations, having access to foreign markets, enlarging the volume of agricultural products for export and import. Our factories and processing enterprises are able to solve the problems concerning the export of vegetables, grapes, fruits, wines, cognac, mineral water and other products in accordance with international standards. In this respect, we are ready to cooperate through bilateral relations, as well as through various structures of international cooperation.

At present, the Government policy, in the sphere of agriculture, in orientated at the effective use of existing potential, the establishment of expanded processing by their own means, as well as the organization of agricultural services and supplies with the assistance of Government; and the solution of problems concerning the protection of local producers' interests. The Government pays attention to the protection of the interests of the farms and other agricultural units.

The Government of the Republic of Armenia facilitates the cooperation in the agricultural sector and the establishment of farmers associations.

The organization of land markets is a critical point. Taking into consideration the problems in the sphere of land utilization, all landowners in the country will soon get state certificates of land ownership rights. New methodologies of cadaster evaluation and observation of lands will be implemented which will allow us to carry out an accurate cadaster evaluation of lands.

Special attention is paid to the increase of land utilization efficiency, investment of credits for international organizations, operation of insurance systems in agriculture and the improvement of state lands.

The reforms of the agrarian sector in the Republic of Armenia and its present policy gear to create a real basis for the further development of agriculture. At the same time, there are favourable conditions for investments in this sphere: the policy of market reforms of the Government of the Republic of Armenia; the existence of favourable investment legislation. The business development laws are adapted to international juridical norms. Due to this, there are favourable conditions to protect foreign investors and their interests; the low level of inflation and the stable local currency.

During the last few years, the Dram, the Armenian currency, had a stable level of exchange with the US dollar. Considering international donor assistance will give us an opportunity to participate in credit programmes of the International Monetary Fund, International Fund of Agricultural Development, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and other financial institutions. The continuation and acceleration of privatization process. Agriculture, its infrastructure, a major part of agricultural processing enterprises is private now. As a result, the percentage of the private sector increases the existence of qualified and inexpensive labour by utilization of diligence and skills of the population of Armenia, it is possible to produce various foods and processing industry products corresponding to international standards by improving the technology and making investments in agricultural production and processing enterprises; the liberal trade policy of the country. Armenia eliminates a great part of normative restrictions, which cold block foreign trade.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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