Harvests hit by another hail storm despite tech solutions
Hail has once again damaged apricot, plum, apple and vegetable harvests in Armenia. The storm lasted half an hour and, according to preliminary data, was the most powerful this year, causing greatest damage so far. The exact extent of the damage has yet to be assessed. A state task force was deployed to the Armavir region, the storm’s epicenter.
The anti-hail stations installed in the area failed once again and for no apparent reason. The Ministry of Agriculture admitted that the stations did not work at full capacity:
“The anti-hail stations worked, but not at the volume we would like them to.”
Farms in Armavir region of Armenia suffer from hail on the regular, in spite of the fact that more than 150 anti-hail installations are installed here. The past government has realized their inefficiency and tried to find other methods. One such solution was introduction of anti-hail netting systems. But these are costly, and therefore most farmers don’t choose this method of crop protection.
The new cabinet of ministers headed by Nikol Pashinyan discussed how to help the residents of the Armavir region and compensate them for the damage caused by the hail at their first meeting.
Today, the Armenian cabinet of ministers has postponed the value added tax for importing equipment for the company VABA for three years. The structure will produce anti-hail netting systems in Armenia, and is going to build a plant in Vanadzor.
Minister of Economic Development and Investment of Armenia, Artsvik Minasyan, noted that all production will be organized in Armenia:
“The company will invest 2.25 billion drams (USD 4.6 million) in this project. As a result, 24 workplaces with an average salary of 320,000 drams (USD 660) will be created.”
The Minister also noted that as a result, prices for anti-hail netting will decrease in Armenia.
But still many farmers believe that this system won’t protect their crops as it should.
Sarkis Mikaelyan covered his vineyard in 5 hectares in the community of Alaskert with anti-hail netting. This cost him about 2.5 million drams (USD 5200). Now the farmer would be happy to protect the remaining 9 hectares of his plot – at a lower price.
Mikaelyan believes that the netting system is most effective. But he and other Armavir farmers say that this method can be used only for vineyards and low, young trees. It is not possible to cover mature apricot or cherry trees as they reach 6-7 meters in height.
The past government recommended that farmers cultivate dwarf tree varieties. The farmers flatly refuse this suggestion. In particular, Hripsime Avetisyan from the village of Argina said:
“I cannot destroy my orchard to plant new dwarf trees and wait for a harvest for 5-7 years. I’m not even talking about how much it would be necessary to invest in all this. “
As things stand, the peasants will have to wait for new proposals from the new government.