Forty-two-year-old Anna Virabyan, a resident of Khashtarak village, Tavush Marz, has been growing traditional and non-traditional crops for more than 20 years. She is actively involved in various programs related to the agricultural sector, and in recent years, she has closely been cooperating with the "Green Agriculture Initiative (EU-GAIA)" project, which is co-financed by the European Union and the Austrian Development Cooperation.
Anna, who specialized as a nurse and also as an accountant, is sure that regardless of specialization, living in a village, you simply cannot help doing agriculture. She says that she chose the first profession at the request of her parents, and the second one based on market demand. However, over time she has come to focus on agricultural work, which provides employment throughout the year.
Now Anna has the opportunity to fully use a greenhouse with an area of 440 square meters provided by the EU-GAIA project, which is equipped with a drip irrigation network and a solar system.
"Our land plot was in a place where irrigation water did not reach, which is why we could not cultivate the land for years," she recalls, "I applied for the program in order to build a greenhouse with a solar system and drip irrigation so that I could engage in sustainable and green agriculture. Thanks to the EU-GAIA project, we have made the unused plot of land cultivated and profitable for us."
Within the framework of the program, Anna also participated in six-month courses and experience exchange visits, and she considers the experience and partnership connections gained during these activities her greatest achievement.
"We learned so much during those courses that I have so far managed to apply only a small part of the experience I have gained in the greenhouse," she says.
She emphasizes that the availability of a greenhouse with innovative approaches has allowed to minimize agricultural risks and avoid such large-scale damages as fellow villagers experience when cultivating agricultural products in the open field.
Anna's successful greenhouse experience has also inspired the women in the village. They often turn to Anna for advice not only on innovative agriculture, but also on information on agricultural programs and grant competitions.
"When they see that I am growing, selling, and getting income, they get excited and want to succeed too. I try to be useful to them to the best of my ability," says Anna.