Wheat and barley are the main cereal crops in Armenia. Corn, spelt and oats also are grown but in small quantities. Wheat occupies the biggest share of total area under cereal crops (55-65%), then barley with 35-45% of share on average. Corn for grain, spelt and oat together occupy only 4-6% of area under cereal crops.
Wheat is considered to be the most important crop in Armenia. From the standpoint of food self-sufficiency it is also a strategic crop. Although wheat is dominating in cereal crop areas, it still cannot meet the local demand. Hence, on average 55-70% of aggregate demand is covered by the imported wheat.
Currently, wheat self-sufficiency is an issue of high importance for Armenia. In contrast to the efforts of the farmers and the government there is still no significant improvement in the yield capacity of the main cereal crops. These crops are highly dependent on the weather conditions and suffer heavily as a result of unfavorable conditions. For instance, the same hail damages grain areas more than that of fruits and vegetables. As a result of unfavorable effect of weather conditions, the per hectare yielding capacity declines and farmers get very poor harvest ending up with big losses rather than gains.
The great portion of Armenian grain farmers are mainly producing for self consumption. Hence, they have no incentive to concentrate on the quality of produce. On the other hand, the processors need to have high quality grains for proper production. For instance, wheat processors insist, that it is more beneficial for them to import from abroad rather than rely on local production. It costs almost the same for them to import wheat or buy local produce but the advantage of the imported one is the high quality. Therefore, big wheat processors, such as Manana Grain and Mancho Group, use only 2-3% of local wheat not to heart the quality of flour.
1. “Food Security and Poverty, January – June 2010’’, National Statistical Service of Armenia, August 21, 2010, available online at www.armstat.am
2. “Area Under Agricultural Crops and Gross Harvest for 2009”, National Statistical Service of Armenia, March 12, 2010; available online at www.armstat.am
3. S. Avetisyan “Agriculture and food processing in Armenia”, Limush Publishing House, Yerevan 2010, pages 31-34