Feed for livestock and poultry ensures food for children and families

In-kind support to rural families in Armenia helps resist the hardships of COVID-19

©FAO/Narine Bezirganyan


 Life in the rural areas of Armenia has perks but has never been easy. Around one-third of villagers live below the poverty line. This situation has been further exacerbated by COVID-19, which has imposed greater financial challenges by restricting the opportunities for trade and seasonal work abroad. At the same time, the significant price increase among everyday goods has made life even more challenging for rural families in Armenia to make ends meet.

The issue is not only the price of food for human consumption. The soaring prices of animal feedstuff has made it hardly possible to keep their livestock and poultry – important sources of meat, dairy products, and eggs for many families.

“There was no way I would be able to provide enough feed to my chickens this winter, should there not be the feed support from FAO”

“There was no way I would be able to provide enough feed to my chickens this winter, should there not be the feed support from FAO,” said Karen Vardanyan, farmer and father of two. Without such support, he would have to decrease his number of hens.

“Thanks to the 450 kilograms of combined feed received, I could keep the poultry, and both the quantity and the quality of eggs have significantly increased, helping us to continue to take care of our family,” Karen added happily. Furthermore, through the income that Karen expects to get from selling eggs, he is planning to improve the hencoop to further increase the number of the hens they keep.

Karen is among the 67 vulnerable families from Lori, northern Armenia, who benefited from the FAO initiative under the European Union’s LEAD programme. They received high-quality fodder and combined feed for livestock and poultry. Earlier, these families were provided with pregnant heifers or chicken as part of a Russian-funded project, yet the fodder distribution was of vital importance now to recover from the challenges posed by the pandemic.

©FAO/Narine Bezirganyan

Poultry feed support ensures nutritious food and revenue

Karen’s children, Vache and Nane, love running to the coop several times a day and bringing fresh eggs from the hens. Eggs not only ensures nutritious food for these children and their family, but is also a source of additional income.

Years ago, FAO provided hens and poultry feed to the Vardanyan family and since then they have worked hard to increase the number of the hens so that they can continue benefitting from the eggs and chicken meat.

“Scrambled eggs and poultry meat are my children’s favourite dishes,” Karen added. “Not only we get nutritious food, but also sell them to buy things necessary for our family. We even managed to exchange eggs with young fruit trees that will provide us with apples, pears, and cherries this year.”

Caring is contagious

“FAO’s support arrived just in time for us,” Mkhitar Gevorgyan said. “Providing quality feed to our cow will boost milk production benefiting not only my family, but also the baby calf.”

Just like many other families in Pushkino village, this family too has no regular source of income and relies on the scarce financial means that they get from keeping livestock. Mkhitar – a  father of six – engages in paid haying works in summers only, and for the rest of the year he struggles to get along.

Last winter, as the prices of feed for livestock headed north, the situation became impossible for Mkhitar to buy fodder. Luckily, FAO’s support arrived then, consisting of 2 400 kg fodder and 720 kg combined feed that allowed the family to keep their cows alive.

©FAO/Narine Bezirganyan

Mkhitar’s four-year-old son Vardan and his older siblings were very excited about the birth of Sheko (meaning “blond” in Armenian) – a cute calf delivered by the cow that FAO previously provided to their family. They cherish the baby calf and take care of him, believing that she will help them take care of the family needs as she grows up.

Mkhitar’s family makes yogurt and cheese from cow milk that they mainly use to improve the nutrition of their children. Now he is planning to increase the number of the cows to increase the family income.

“I hope at some point I will be well off and will be able to help others in need, just like FAO helped me,” Mkhitar added.

The feed support initiative in a nutshell

The feed distribution initiative is part of the Local Empowerment of Actors for Development (LEAD) Programme supported by the European Union and implemented by FAO and the United Nations Development Programme, in close partnership with Armenia’s Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure and Ministry of Economy. The programme helps those living in the Lori and Tavush regions of Armenia play active roles in inclusive, resilient, and sustainable local development. This four-year programme focuses on adapting and implementing the European Union’s LEADER methodology in the Lori and Tavush regions of Armenia and support community-driven local and rural development initiatives carried out through partnerships uniting local authorities, civil society, and the private sector.

The 67 families that received livestock and poultry feed support previously benefitted from FAO’s Cash+ pilot initiative as part of “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia” project funded by the Russian Federation. The project aimed to pilot innovative approaches that complemented the state-funded social protection programme 

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1. No poverty, 2. Zero hunger, 8. Decent work and economic growth