FAO in Armenia

FAO project supports refugee households in Armenia to access agricultural land

A family in Chinari village/ FAO Armenia

In response to the displacement of over 100,000 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh in late September 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a project aimed at supporting refugee households in Armenia to access agricultural land. Many of these displaced individuals, who were engaged in farming activities, have resettled in rural areas of Armenia where agriculture represents their primary means of livelihood.

During November – December 2023, the refugee families which had recently settled in rural areas of Tavush Province were interviewed, as part of an FAO-led internal context analysis to solicit their interest in engaging in agricultural activities. The outcome of this analysis was used to identify the settlements in Tavush with potentially most refugee households interested in acquiring access to agricultural land.

This project that was officially launched in January 2024, aims to facilitate access to land for refugee families while boosting local agricultural production for domestic consumption. Through targeted support, FAO seeks to establish linkages with local value chains and ensure social cohesion within communities.

During the initial phase of the project, which commenced in February and March 2024, FAO worked closely with refugee households in three settlements in Tavush and Lori Provinces. Six refugee households in the Tavush settlement and eight in the Chinari settlement have confirmed their interest in accessing agricultural land. Additionally, efforts are underway to contact private landowners who are not utilizing their land, inquiring if they would be interested in leasing it out to refugee households. Lease agreements for the first ten land parcels are currently being prepared and are expected to be signed during April 2024. In Achajour settlement, there are some refugee families that are currently interested in access to land. Simultaneously, as the process of identifying potential matches between landowners and refugee households progresses, FAO are also identifying and mapping out the additional requirements of refugee households related to initiating agricultural production.

"The project aims to provide a sustainable solution for refugee households to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. By facilitating access to agricultural land and providing necessary support, we aim to empower these households to engage in agricultural production and contribute to increased agricultural output in Armenia" says Vahan Amirkhanyan, Technical Coordinator of the project.

Despite challenges such as unresolved inheritance issues among landowners and restrictions on land ownership for foreign citizens, FAO remains committed to facilitating lease agreements and addressing the needs of refugee households.

Moving forward, FAO will continue its work with supporting refugees in Tavush and Lori Provinces, with project activities fully underway. FAO will work closely with development partners to meet the identified needs of refugee households and promote agricultural development in Armenia.