Strengthening Organic Agriculture in Armenia: Participatory Higher Education and Knowledge Exchange for Development | SOAA

pasture © Sasun Mamajanyan

Project Coordinator: Lusine Nalbandyan

Coordinating Institution: Armenian National Agrarian University

Partner Institution: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (Bernhard Freyer and Milena Klimek)

Partner Countries:  Armenia

Project Duration: 1 March 2022 – 28 February 2025 (36 months)

Project Overview

Due to initial governmental interest in strengthening smallholder farmers and in improving environmental conditions, the Armenian organic sector is on the rise. At the same time, there is growing attention by international actors active in Armenia on supporting organic farming activities. In response to the need for a demand in higher education of skilled professionals in research and practice, essential for development of the Armenian organic sector, an organic agriculture master program (OAMP) was participatorily developed and implemented at the Armenian National Agrarian University (ANAU) (See predecessor project: Building Organic Agriculture in Armenia (BOAA). As the OAMP is dependent upon the success of the Armenian organic sector, the SOAA project builds upon the existing momentum that the BOAA project spurred in higher education and go beyond. To do so, SOAA will:

  1. advance and improve skills and quality of the existing OAMP,
  2. amplify existing results and successes to an institutional level within ANAU, and
  3. contribute to capacity building and outreach within the Armenian organic sector and community.

SOAA first improves upon BOAAs successful OAMP project and implements a recursive evaluation process. It then takes lessons learned and successes to the institutional level contributing to ANAU’s education reforms, modernization, and internationalization, as well as advancing needed skills in project management and continued learning for its faculty and staff. Finally, it designs and implements an innovative farm design course-used to both develop the ANAU student farm and teach farm design. This will add to organic research and student-centered learning in which the farm will become a needed organic advisory resource to Armenian farmers, and include a community outreach focus that positively influences the wider organic sector. SOAA continues the previous project’s participatory processes to offer a continued holistic perspective of the current organic system in Armenia and allows for the implementation of the ideas of many diverse stakeholders, making the OAMP, its amplification and the student organic farm, highly relevant to the actual Armenian and global case.