Consolidation is the alternative

Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
April 28, 2004


According to the minister of agriculture B. Bakhshiyan, the progress
in the sphere of agriculture is rather quantitative than qualitative.
Then why is the progress so slow despite the fact that there are no
problems in the legislative sphere, and everything is done to promote
the development of agriculture? The actuality, however, arouses
anxiety. To find out the opinion and approach of the legislators in
reference to the problems and development rates of the sphere of
agriculture we talked to the chairman of the permanent committee of
industry and industrial infrastructures of NKR National Assembly Kamo
Barseghian. – Mr. Barseghian, what is your evaluation of the situation
in the sphere of agriculture? What is, in your opinion, the reason for
slow rates of development of NKR agriculture? – Of course, the
collapse of the Union was followed by inevitable consequences,
moreover, it was necessary to adjust to the new production
relationships, which by the way, went on through great difficulties.
Naturally we could not have advanced by the former rates of
production, especially after the war. The rates of reproduction also
had dropped. Being separated from the Soviet Union, then Russia,
adopting the line of independence, we were to access the international
market where our products were inferior in quality. According to the
new economic relationships privatization was to become the strategic
issue. However, the implementation of privatization was carried out,
in my opinion, from a wrong standpoint. Privatization should be
started with shops and then only proceed to the sphere of
agriculture. What is more, the agricultural machinery should not have
been included in the process. In other words, privatization should
have been implemented stage by stage. And what happened in reality?
Mistakes were made in the very beginning, and those were rather
serious mistakes. – Could you enumerate them? Not could but I should
enumerate them. Starting with consumption cooperatives. I want to
emphasize that the consumption cooperatives had been established even
before the revolution. In the Soviet years these cooperatives were not
modified and remained as cooperative property. In our times it is only
in NKR (in Armenia HayCoop still operates) that the consumption
cooperatives, on a vague basis, were announced as state property, then
privatized and the receipts were directed at filling the budget
gap. The next mistake was that the whole population of Karabakh
profited from privatization except for the inhabitants of
Stepanakert. The whole population of the villages and regional centers
received farming land 6000 square meter or 0.6 hectare. The
inhabitants of Stepanakert who worked all their lives in factories
received only living area. The general dissolution of collective farms
should have been prevented. The agricultural machinery should not have
been dissolved as neither Armenia, nor Karabakh produce
machines. Living in blockade for a long time we were to use the
machines which we inherited from the Soviet rule. And we took and
privatized the machinery. There were very few owners who could afford
to repair the machines. These are used intensively, and the new ones
are not available for the ordinary land farmer. Therefore machines
are dispersed and in a bad condition. And it is impossible to consider
seriously the development of agriculture without agricultural machines
and modern ones. – During this session the National Assembly adopted
land, forest and water codes, the laws “On Seed Farming” (which has
not been passed in Armenia yet), “On Tax on Land”, “On Nature
Preservation”, “On Flora”, “On Fauna” etc. there is an intention to
present to the National Assembly the bill “On Hypothec”. There are
laws, now it is the turn of the executive to bring them in effect. –
Certain progress was achieved in agriculture in the recent years,
especially in the sphere of production of grain. – Yes, there is
certain success. But only with the large landowners. It is a fact
that without consolidation agriculture does not have serious
possibilities for development. The only way out from the situation is
consolidation of private farms and cooperation. Otherwise the
government will have to aid farmers permanently by granting low
interest long-term loans and sell the new acquired agricultural
machines though hypothec. In recent years Armenia has started the
import of new machines, naturally at the current high prices. Is an
ordinary farmer (supporting a family of five members) who has in
average 3 hectares of land, able to buy any new machine? And such
farmers are very many in our country. Either the government should aid
them to buy machines through the hypothec method, or as I mentioned,
they have to join efforts and means. If we have successful farmers, we
will be a developing country. And being an agrarian country we must
have a state strategic program of development of agriculture.