By Gayane Mkrtchyan
The Oxfam Armenian Office and the OneArmenia organization initiated a public fundraising with the means of which they plan to build greenhouses in four border communities in the province of Tavush in order to support female farmers.
“The fundraising started this May 4 and will end on June 14; the aim has been to collect $40,000. The stress is put on supporting female farmers creating more economic opportunities for them so that women are able to increase both their income and their social status,” head of the Oxfam Armenian office Margarita Hakobyan said.
The initiative aims at funding the Economic Justice program run by Oxfam carried out in the provinces of Tavush and Vayots Dzor.
Oxfam, an organization founded in the UK, is an international confederation of 17 organizations working in approximately 94 countries worldwide to find solutions to poverty and what it considers injustice around the world. It has carried out various programs in Armenia since 1994.
Nazaret Seferyan, head of the OneArmenia Armenian office, said they will try to help families living in border villages to create job opportunities and decrease emigration.
“So far 100 people have made donations, the total amount forms more than $9,000, there are those who have nothing to do with our organization, but they decided to find money for this program. Within this program we have 15 people one of whom decided to collect $500, another one – $1,000 and donate to the program,” Seferyan said.
(OneArmenia has implemented a number of programs in Armenia and Karabakh due to fundraising campaigns).
In the province of Tavush 18 agricultural consumer cooperatives were founded, four storage complexes for fruit and vegetables were built and put into operation, 21 greenhouse households were built.
Margarita Hakobyan said: we have one aim only – to support small farming economies, specifically women to provide sustainable livelihood by means of developing economic possibilities.
“Women form 70 percent of cooperative members. Those who live in communities where there are greenhouses have regularly paid jobs and can provide a regular income,” she said.
The program envisages the creation of 12-15 new jobs in each community, where annually 7-8 tons of additional products will be provided and annual revenues will reach 1.5 million AMD (more than $3,100).
Hakobyan emphasizes the social component of the initiative.
“They are not simply greenhouses, factories, they are also social initiatives. 40 percent of the production or income out of those economies is directed toward solving community problems. For instance, fruit and cans are sent to schools or kindergartens,” she said. “Farmers are also provided with interest-free loans for selling their products; they are mostly given to supermarkets, as well as to local restaurants. As a result one family gains an income of 10,000 AMD (about $20) a day.”
The organizations emphasize not only the women’s work in the greenhouses but also their participation in the administrative system of the cooperatives: how actively women participate in processes of decision-making. To picture the image better in several communities in the province of Vayots Dzor, in Yghegis, Zedea and Hormo they created cooperatives for women only.
“If we contrast them with our mixed cooperatives we can see that women work much better. In mixed cooperatives men take the administration in their hands not allowing women to control, because there comes the income, the money, and men like controlling money, but men and women manage money differently,” Hakobyan said. “Women work more honestly and transparently, are more accountable, men keep their income, of course it is not about all men, but that is the result that we had.”