Karen Gabrielyan


New ways to sell to new markets when a new reality strikes


We learnt to live with the reality and continued to work, grow, sustain. Hardships unite people, make them stronger and smarter.”



Agronomist Karen Gabrielyan says that COVID-19 did not change his life for the worse. He simply carried on. “We learnt to live with the reality and continued to work […] Hardships” he says, “unite people, make them stronger and smarter. That is how I learnt to use digital platforms to sell our produce, for example.”

In Mrgashat – a village in the Armavir marz (province) in the western part of Armenia - Karen refused to let his future be ruined by the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. With his family - which consists of his octogenarian parents, his wife, his son, and his son’s family – eight people under one roof - Karen owns and works 3.5 hectares of land, where the family grow apricots, cherries, sunflower, wheat and, most recently, asparagus.

Karen was one of the first farmers to plant asparagus in Armenia back in 1998, when very few people had even heard of the vegetable (which is most often grown in Europe and other parts of western temperate Asia). He realized that selling such a little-known product locally was bound to be initially challenging, but he was determined, planting in a small plot measuring 300 sq meters. Today, the plot has grown to become an expansive field ten times the initial plot size.

Before the spread of COVID, Karen and most of the farmers in rural areas of Armenia, sold their produce in their local markets or provided larger quantities to the supermarkets in Yerevan. With confinement and restriction of movement, Karen decided to use Facebook as a marketing platform to shift his harvested produce. With approximately 5000 friends in the virtual world, it proved relatively easy for him to find buyers. “I have more customers now than I had before” he says. “I even have a product deficit sometimes, as more and more people want to buy asparagus and, indeed, the cherries and apricots that I also grow.”  Karen thinks he will continue using social media to sell his produce and seeks to develop other tools – including e-agriculture tools - even after the COVID-19 situation evolves for the better.