The winegrowers’ travails continue
Prices lowered, volumes reduced, no clarifications made
Alik Ozmanyan from Sardarapat expects to harvest 80 tons of Rkatsiteli grape variety, but he doesn’t hold out much hope that he could fully sell out the crop. He says, he’s been delivering the yielded crop to the Armavir branch of the “Ararat brandy factory for already 10 years. However, this year, the factory has changed the acceptance conditions.
First of all, the price has been lowered by AMD0,20 (approximately US$0,04) to AMD 130 (US$0,30). At the same time, the volume of procurement has been reduced by 15%. What makes Ozmanyan particularly indignant is the fact that the factory has changed the contractual obligations without taking into account the farmers’ opinion and the factory administration absolutely doesn’t care, how the winegrowers are supposed to sell the rest of their crops.
Unlike previous years, when the small processing plants had made certain concessions to farmers and accepted products without concluding any contracts, in the past two years they either refused to buy grapes without a contract or paid just 50% of the set price.
Procurement of grape crops started from September 15
The ‘Ararat’ brandy factory kicked start to the grapes procurement season. Unlike previous years, there wasn’t any pageant ceremony on the occasion of the first day of acceptance of grape crops. Neither the Premier, nor the Agriculture Minister or even the factory director, attended the event. The official part of the ceremony was ensured by Armavir Governor, Ashot Kagramanyan, who himself was surprised that he had been left alone.
He had postponed entry of a car with grapes on the territory of factory several times, since he’d hoped that the factory administration would at least make late appearance, but as no one showed up he announced the beginning of the grapes procurement process.
What’s the reason for officials’ absence and a price drop?
Sergo Karapetyan, the Agriculture Minister [by the time of publication of this article Sergo Karapetyan was dismissed from this post], liked to attend solemn ceremonies on the occasion of the launch of grape crops procurement process and enjoyed taking photos against the factor background. “He apparently didn’t have anything to say this time, says Mamikon Aleksanyan, a winegrower from Sardarapat. He believes that the minister avoided participating in the ceremony in order not to answer the farmers’ questions about the reasons for a drop in grapes prices, reduction of contractual procurement volumes and, most importantly, non-payment of sums for the grapes procured last year.
Mamikon says, he has sustained considerable losses. This year, he has lost 30-40% of grape crop due to hail. Then the ‘Ararat’ brandy factory has cut down by 15% the contractual volume of procurement of 80 tons of grapes, whereas now, it refuses to conclude a contract with him.
Last year, Mamikon submitted to the ‘Ararat’ brandy factory 80 out of 130 tons of grapes cropped from his 6ha.land plot. The rest 50tons were submitted to 2 more enterprises-Shakhnazaryan LLC, located in Myasnikyan, and Armavir branch of the Proshyan Brandy Factory.
The latter two organizations haven’t paid to Mamikon so far, though the farmers submitted their grape crops to them, having believed Sergo Karapetyan on his bare word. And the Minister assured them that the procurers would pay for 2015 grapes crop no later than March 1, 2016.
5 organizations were engaged in procurement of grapes crop in Armavir in 2015 and only 2 of them paid in cash. The rest three still owe the winegrowers. Armavir Governor, Ashot Kagramanyan, also confirmed this fact.
The new grapes acceptance conditions, offered by the purchasers this year, have come as a surprise to the governor as well. He assumes that the reason for cost reduction could be linked to a problem with product sales by the manufacturers of alcoholic beverages, whereas a drop in procurement volumes- to the need for risk reduction.
Anyway, the governor expressed hope that negotiations with the companies would be finished soon. The requirements imposed on them are as follows: to pay out the last year’s debts, to start procurement of this year’s crop and to ensure that a cost of procurement without concluding a contract is not less that AMD110 (approximately US$0,23).
Aygevan residents intend to uproot their vineyards
Until last year, Samvel Sargsyan submitted 5 tons of grapes to the factory annually. Whereas this year the factories refused to conclude a new contact with him, as well as with his neighbors. So, Samvel has decided to plant some fruit trees instead of vine.
In his opinion, the problem has been created artificially: some attempts have been made to ensure that only huge farmers could stay in this business. “Ernekyan [an Argentinian businessman of Armenian origin, who is making huge investments in the agriculture field], the second president’s son and a couple of people with the vineyards covering hundreds of hectares, will be the only ones, who will stay in this business.
Alik Ozmanyan, whose vineyard is also relatively small, just 6 hectares, shares Samvel’s assumption.
After all, apart from reducing the prices and procurement volumes, one more requirement has been imposed only on them, the small vineyard owners: the clusters of procured grapes should have an ideal appearance. And for that purpose the farmers have had to go into extra spending.
This year, the market quality of grapes was spoiled by hail and the farmers had to hire people to put the grape clusters into shape. For instance, Mamikon Aleksanyan spent extra AMD1,5million (more than US$3,000) on the aforesaid.
137,000 tons of grapes were produced in Armavir province last year. This year, the grapes crop made 105,000 tons due to frost and hail.