Faces of Our Projects: Hayk from Ashotavan
Hayk and his father Khurshud Avanesyans live in a small settlement named Ashotavan located in the south of Armenia. The father and son share the title of the head of the family equally. They are convinced that farming is a great way of sustaining their family of four. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Khurshud Avanesyan, 57, setting aside the hardships of the time, decided to hold on to the lands and the machinery he owned. Staying true to himself, Khurshud has passed his passion of farming on to his young son Hayk.
Seeking ways of extending their family business and enlarging their farm, Hayk has come across an announcement of periodical trainings placed at the local municipality, which led him to the Animal Market of Syunik. Organized by the Strategic Development Agency, the implementing partner of the Swiss funded livestock development project, those trainings aimed at promoting participation and engagement of the local youth (aged 18-35) in farming and supporting them in their initiatives. Most importantly, the three stages of the trainings consisted of business planning exercises, animal care and construction activities.
“Coming back home from the trainings I had everything planned out and was ready to extend our farm,” recalls the young farmer. To come up with his own proposal of an initiative was the last stage of the trainings. “I remembered the huge unused space nearing our house for as long as I could remember myself,” shares Hayk. Armed with the knowledge gained at the Animal Market, and with the support of the project, Hayk decided to put the land in good use and construct a barn for his family’s farm.
Two years have passed, and the barn, home to 37 cows of different breeds, is standing strong. “I have built the barn in accordance with all the standards and the norms, based on the example of the Animal Market,” proudly says Hayk. “The big number of nuances counted the establishment of proper ventilation system, lighting conditions, enough space between the livestock, waste collection system, water lines and much more,” Hayk explains. Throughout the course of building the barn Hayk has received guidance and recommendations on the process of construction, as well as on animal care inside the barn.
The construction of the barn has significantly contributed to the prosperity and expansion of Avanesyans’ work. “Previously we had nothing to do during the winters. Calling it a low season was at least an understatement,” remembers Khurshud. As of now, the family’s farm delivers a daily total of 150 liters of milk to the nearby milk collection point.
However, stopping there would not be typical of this family. Having grown the number of cattle heads from 3 to 37, Hayk and his father now focus on improving their breeds. “When we set the traditional practices aside and started artificially inseminating our cows the results spoke for themselves. The cows are much healthier. The milk quality is miles better,” states Hayk. After the completion of the periodical trainings, animal healthcare became a clear priority for the young farmer. For keeping a thorough track of the livestock’s lifecycle, Hayk’s birth journal comes in handy. “I document every small detail and closely follow the timeline,” says Hayk. In the coming years, together with the project, Hayk plans to take on new initiatives and only move forward.