Russia Encourages More Food Imports from Armenia

Grapes harvested at a vinyard in Armenia's Ararat Valley. (Photo: Photolur)


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The Russian government has offered to help Armenia increase exports of agricultural products to Russia after its ban on food imports from the West, a senior official in Yerevan revealed on Thursday.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Robert Makarian showed RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) a letter from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture citing strong demand for Armenian foodstuffs in Russia and expressing readiness to help boost their imports.

Makarian said that representatives of some Russian food retailers have already arrived in Armenia to look into its export potential. “Since they are now facing a certain shortage of agricultural products they are now more interested in seeing our products in the Russian market,” he explained.

The Armenian government has already moved to capitalize on the anticipated shortage, with Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian setting up a special task force for that purpose last week. The working group headed by Makarian is tasked with “increasing the volume of agricultural and food exports and organizing the export process in a coordinated manner.” The Armenian Ministry of Agriculture publicized the phone numbers of the group’s members and posted on its website export-related information for farmers and food-processing companies.

A senior executive from Spayka, an Armenian cargo company specializing in agricultural exports, agreed on Thursday that the Russian ban, imposed in retaliation for Western economic sanctions against Moscow, opened up a “good opportunity” for Armenia. Karen Baghdasarian said Spayka could triple its shipments to Russia in the coming months.

“This situation also allows us to diversify agricultural exports from Armenia given the emerging additional demand,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “For example, we started exporting mushrooms a few days ago and are also planning large-scale exports of greens.”

Russia has long been the main market for Armenian fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products as well as prepared foodstuffs sold abroad. Government data put the total volume of these exports to $415 million last year. The figure is equivalent to 28 percent of the country’s total export revenue in 2013.

Makarian acknowledged that Armenia is too small an economy to be able to substitute for a large part of the food which Russia imported from the United States and the European Union until recently. But, he said, it can give a major boost to its struggling agriculture through a sharp rise in exports. “Our critics should not fear that we might have a food deficit in our own market,” added the official.

Agriculture Minister Karapetian claimed on August 13 that Armenian food exports to Russian can be doubled as early as this year.

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11 Comments

  1. dvo said:

    This is a great opportunity, also for other sectors! Armenians sould also hurry up with the projects with Iran Armenia’s economy will boost up! The more trade the better for Armenia so long Iran also faces sanctions Armenia must use this opportunity to boost its trade before times change. Both countries Iran and Russia think Armenia as a reliable partner.

  2. dvo said:

    Russia wanted us in their union and now they must help us becouse Russian sactions will also hurt Armenia. This is a very good step!.

  3. dvo said:

    i expect definitely more from Russia also the non food sectors in all sectors becouse i dont know if this is a move to join the union or just becouse they need it. Armenia needs to feel it importance in the union. Russia should definitely boost its trade with Armenia.

  4. Hratch said:

    What childs play. So Mother Russia is angry at the West and now wants to play nice with us. This is typical behavior of a bully. He gets into trouble and starts befriending others when the heat is turned on. It’s amazing that in the 21st century we still have to deal with such crassness!

  5. Ed said:

    I had to read only the frist 4 lines of this article and stop reading it!!!!!!
    again members of TA government are engaged in PR actions and making noise , using the media!!

    This is some how stupid Deputy Agriculture Minister, he should be fired ! rwho shows such a letter- He is acting like a spay!
    why are they making so much noise around exporting a couple tones of fruits to Russia, which most probable due to mismanagement and lack of interest will never happen?

  6. Edmound said:

    Irresponsible disclosure and interviews !
    Send the Agriculture Minister and his Deputy home now!

    • GB said:

      Mother Russia has no other choices but to get food from CIS countries including Armenia, due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia!

    • Hratch said:

      For what? They are doing this for their own good. What are you blessing them for?

  7. hidi said:

    **** What happened to quite diplomacy and business negotiation.? I think the A/Minister and some others in the government need some training…, before they get the job and be a blabber mouths., so elementary., it makes Armenia’s enemy lol..!!!

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