Armenian dried fruit producers to improve agricultural practices

The USAID-funded Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) Project and the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center (SME DNC) held a presentation for over 70 Armenian dried fruit producers on April 18, 2013.

Organized within the framework of the ‘Support to Dried Fruit Production’ initiative by SME DNC and the EDMC Project, the presentation focused on modern technologies and quality standards in dried fruit and vegetable production. It brought together dried fruit producers from Yerevan, Ararat, Armavir, Kotayk, Syunik, and Tavush, as well as representatives of SME DNC, CARD, World Vision Armenia, and other members of the Agricultural Alliance.

“Dried fruit and vegetable production in Armenia has great potential for increased sales and exports, given that producers commit to enhancing post-harvest processing practices and match the products’ quality with international standards,” noted Executive Director of SME DNC Varazdat Karapetyan in his opening remarks. “On our side, SME DNC and its local and international partners are committed to supporting Armenian dried fruit producers to advance this sub-sector in the coming years to become export-ready.”

Prior to the presentation, from March 12 to April 18, EDMC and SME DNC worked together to address a number of issues related to dried fruit production. Together with SME DNC specialists, EDMC International Consultant Ruggero Malossi, with his over 25 years of experience in the field of the production, processing, and packaging of food and beverages, worked to pre-qualify local producers for the adoption of international quality standards, trained 17 dried fruit specialists as trainers, developed business and technology models, as well as a set of prerequisites and standards to market access with practical recommendations, compiled a manual on dried fruit production, and delivered recommendations on the establishment of a fruit-drying knowledge center.

The event concluded with a certificate award ceremony for the participants of the Training of Trainers, who plan to deliver their newly acquired knowledge and skills to a wider number of dried fruit producers throughout Armenia. As part of the larger initiative to support Armenian dried fruit producers, the parties plan to finalize and disseminate the manual, as well as to collaborate on the establishment of the knowledge center. In addition, trained producers will qualify to apply for SME loans at SME DNC for the amount of up to 5mln Armenian drams with a 10 percent annual interest rate.

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