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159. Female Refugees turn agriculture into business in Armenia

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Coop Name: Hermon agri-cooperative N° of Employees: 2
City: Hermon N° of Members: 32
Country: Armenia Year of formation: 2011
About this coop:

Hermon agri-cooperative was established by female refugee small holder farmers from Hermon village with the support of the Oxfam Livelihood programme. All members are involved in horticulture agri- business activities and participate in cooperative management and decision-making. Hermon cooperative members now also benefit from the cold storage facility established in neighbouring communities by Oxfam.

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Hermon, one of the poorest communities in Vayots Dzor is resettled with refugees. In 2011 OXFAM was the first in Armenia to create a women’s agricultural cooperative in this community.

Naira Mnatsakanyan assumed the position of president of the agricultural cooperative at the nomination of her fellow villagers. She has a lot of experience in agriculture. Due to her diligence and initiative she can unite and lead people.

Naira Mnatsakanyan has been living for 15 years in Hermon. Although she is a teacher, she has been a bee keeper and gardener for over 10 years.

The new cooperative headed by Naira Mnatsakanyan has had notable achievements in a short period of time. As a result of the assistance shown by OXFAM, 30 refugee women members of the cooperative, apart from securing jobs and helping raise the standard of living of their families, have contributed greatly to the development of the community by growing more lively and resistant non-traditional vegetables such as broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, “cherry” tomatoes and chilli peppers.

“Hermon, being a border village resettled with refugees seems to have been overlooked by the state; whereas here, more than any other region, we feel the need for assistance and support. I am proud that I could contribute to the establishment of this agricultural cooperative. This is a very important initiative as a result of which, women who have been resettled from different regions and with different customs have the opportunity to work together and unite their efforts to solve the issues of the community. This united work is not only a guarantee of prosperity for the members of the cooperative alone, but for the entire community”, says Naira Mnatsakanyan.

This story was originally published in the Oxfam publication “Female Heroes in the Agricultural Products Sector”

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Oxfam
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