From May 14th-24th Armenian National Agrarian University professors Sasun Mamajanyan, Narine Hovhannisyan, Hovsep Grigoryan, project assistant Astghik Sahakyan and organic tea producer Areg Galstyan participated in trainings and field visit through and at BOKU. They were hosted by the working group for Transdisciplinary Systems Research.
The overall goal of the visit was for the guests to be introduced to the organic landscape of Austria, as well as to be trained in innovative teaching methods and tools. With a very dense program, the visit had three main components: 1) Pedagogical and didactical trainings and 2) excursions to organic farms, schools, businesses and organizations showcasing a variety of production methods, processing, marketing, food and philosophies and 3) sharing experiences on master programmes in organic farming.
Although there is much more work to be done, the visit enabled necessary networking, new organic knowledge, pedagogical training, and it also helped illustrate the many possibilities for the organic sector in Armenia. This is exemplified by a few reflective experts from the guests themselves:
“Through a series of practical and field activities and active discussions, it was possible to clarify many aspects of organic agriculture Master's program to be developed and implemented at Armenian National Agrarian University (ANAU). Master's program will introduce new and effective teaching methods as well as contemporary solutions to current issues of organic agriculture.”
“During field visits specifications of different organic farms were revealed and the mandatory conditions required for conversion to organic production became clear. In this regard, observation and discussion over buffer strips in the agro-landscape has been of great interest.“
“By taking into account different ways of thinking of different specialists and students about the curriculum we can find a completely new approach to the content of the curriculum.”
“...an important fact that's definitely worth duplicating in Armenia is social responsibility of organic farms in Austria (be it involving students in farm works or organizing social events in farms). The reason behind active social role of organic farms in Austria is the philosophy of organic agriculture: that is, for organic farmers in Austria, organic production is not solely profit making mechanism, it is the philosophy and the approaches of organic agriculture that are of high importance to them. Lessons learnt: efforts should be put not solely on teaching the students how to grow organic crops, but explaining and showing them the philosophy of organic agriculture, how organic agriculture can benefit organic producers, mother nature and society as a whole.”