– Armenian Government Workshop about the grape industry.
CA: Armenian Technology Group, Inc. (A.T.G.) <!—US
Government on its collaboration with FAO’s International Plant
Protection Secretariat. The convention addressed the
considerable phylloxera problem in Armenia. A three-day workshop
was held in Yerevan, Armenia, from July 24-26, 2019, “to help Armenian
national plant-protection authorities build their capacities to protect the
country from the impact of quarantine pests, especially in the context of grape
is a nematode, a microscopic louse that feeds on the roots and
leaves of susceptible grapevines, and eventually diminishes the grape-root’s
ability to absorb needed water and nutrients to sustain the vines.
Board of Directors of A.T.G. commends Mr. Georgi Avetisyan for his leadership
and courage in facing the problem head-on with Armenia’s governmental
participation in the educational workshop. During
past administrations, the situation had worsened, as
the nematode spread into the Ararat Valley. A.T.G. first identified this
problem years ago and, at the time, brought it to the attention of prior
contribution in Armenia’s grape industry.
1995, during their early visits to the Artsakh
region, members of the A.T.G. Board of Directors recognized the existence
of the phylloxera nematode in grape vines there and
realized the economic disaster that it would cause to the grape and
related industries in that region. By 1997, A.T.G. executive committee
members, then comprised of Dr. Arthur Hazarabedian, Chairman, Dr.
Leon Garoyan, Corporate Secretary, George Leylegian, Chief Financial Officer,
and Varoujan Der Simonian, Executive Director, met with the Prime
Minister of Artsakh at the time, Jerayr Poghosian, and
A.T.G.-Artsakh Director, Vladimer Zakeyan, (a respected
agronomist, former deputy minister of Agriculture and once director of Hatrut
region) and decided to take concrete
action. They set up a phylloxera-resistant grape root-stock nursery in
the war-torn border-village, Kheramort, in the Askeran
region. The goal was to preserve indigenous grape varieties from complete
destruction, and to ensure that the growers will be able to protect their
vineyards, investment and hard labor from the devastating economic impact
caused by phylloxera nematode.
the directors’ report to A.T.G. Fresno, then-president, the late Ronald
Khachigian acted immediately by contacting his brother, Luther Khachigian, who
generously donated 5,400 mature phylloxera-resistant wild
rootstocks to A.T.G. to help set up the nursery in Kheramort in 1998.
Mr. Poghosian’s efficiency
and leadership in making possible the timely transport of the cuttings, from Yerevan’s airport to Stepanakerd – uninterrupted — was crucial in setting
up the nursery.
During subsequent years, with
the loyal support of its financial donors, A.T.G., with Vladimir
Zakeyan, employed 53 families from local villages
to create a
200-acre grape nursery that enabled the growing of over 100,000
grafted seedlings per year.
As a results, thousands of acres of
vineyards were rejuvenated and planted in the Artsakh
region. The indiginous Khindogny red grape variety was
saved from complete loss. It is due to Mr. Zakeyan’s efforts that, today,
Armenian wine lovers enjoy sipping superb red wine made of
Khindogny grapes. [See Matt Kettmann’s extensive five-page feature article in June
15, 2005 issue of Wine Spectator
A.T.G.’s role in rejuvenating efforts of grape and wine industries in the
in leadership, its consequences <!—US
and change of guards.
2011 Mr. Zakeyan stepped down from his position. He expressed, he was “no
longer able to work with the new leadership,” which had values quite a
different than his upbringing would allow, so that his service
might be effective. Araik Harutyunyan, who occupied the Prime
Minister’s office (2007-2018), pressed grape growers to sell their harvest
directly to him — at a much lower than the market price [paying only
80 dram per kg instead of the market price of 120 dram per kg].
He then exploited the Prime Minister’s
office by selling the harvest to wine and spirit processing
plants and keeping the profit.
grape growers revolted, stopped growing grapes. Hence, they were hesitant to invest their
resources in obtaining and planting new rootstocks, and, in many instances,
pulled out their vines.
2014, A.T.G. transferred the management of the grape nursery to well-known
wine-maker Vahe Kueskguerian. The Board of Directors of A.T.G. has
had full confidence in Mr. Kueshguerian, who understands the value and the
importance of preserving and more broadly extending the
phylloxera-resistant rootstock nursery to the grape industry in Atsakh.
appears in Ararat Valley.
restricted its operations, in order to prevent the transport of any
plants, or other agricultural items, from phylloxera-infected regions to
other locations in Armenia. Nevertheless, A.T.G. In-country
Director, Gagik Mkrchyan and Executive Director Varoujan Der Simonian
witnessed other entities moving truckloads of cement poles from Artsakh to
Ararat Valley, to relocate the posts in their fields. Knowing well that
the microscopic louse phylloxera nematodes could live on the
poles as well and would infect the fields of Armenia, A.T.G. brought their
concerns to the attention of the authorities, as early as 2005, yet, they were
not allowed to act in preventive ways.
years ago the destructive nematode appeared in a small family vineyard in
Ararat Valley. In 2014, the A.T.G. Board of Directors again raised
the issue directly with the authorities, during a face to face meeting and
through the media, observing that “A major agricultural catastrophe is lurking
in Armenia. Armenia’s centuries-old grape and related industries are in danger
of losing their productivity, potentially impacting the livelihood of thousands
of families, while causing a major loss of export-potential and income to the
entire country!” see A.T.G. statement on ATGUSA.org/grapes.
years have passed, since we informed the public about the looming
danger grape growers were facing within Armenia.
is of the essence, and yes, we can, still, make a difference!
aforementioned workshop provides an opportunity for the ATG Board of
Directors to work closely with the new leadership. Again, we want to
help growers rejuvenate their domestic grape vineyards by grafting
their varieties to phylloxera-resistant rootstock.
time is of the essence! Soon, farmers in Armenia may lose all
their vines! They could be forced to rip everything out to replant their
vineyards with new phylloxera-resistant vines. We must be ready — now, more
than ever — to make phylloxera-resistant cuttings available to the
is in the process of propagating rootstock, but in order to have
sufficient cuttings available for some
10,000 acres of vineyards, we need to expand our nursery by 30 acres of
farmland in the Ararat Valley. There, they could be grafted onto
indigenous grape varieties, which finally, would be supplied to the grape
to the expansion of the nursery, our country director, Gagik Mkrchyan is
recommending, highly, that we should first fence the 30 acres. This would
protect the new seedlings from looters and grazing by nearby livestock. Farm
animals destroy vegetation. “Otherwise,” he said, we will have
a constant battle on our hands and that will hinder our mission.”
Gagik solicited bids for the fencing expenses – cost of labor, material
and installation. These expenses alone will amount to about
are urgently asking for your support!
to A.T.G. are tax-deductible. Donations may be made on- line or by direct
mail to Armenian Technology Group, Inc. P. O. Box 5969 Fresno, CA 93755.
we stated in 2014, ‘The livelihoods of thousands of already-stressed
farm-families in Armenia are at high risk of being ruined. These farmers are
the ones who work hard all year long to supply grapes to the centuries-old
Armenian wine and cognac (brandy) industries. The income-generating producers and exporters
are not only on the verge of environmental, but also economic collapse.’
Our words are more pertinent today than ever.
always, you know how much growers will appreciate your consideration and