Republic of Armenia
Total surface area: 29.800 km2
Permanent population: 3.2 million
Share of agriculture in the economy: 46 %
Arable land: 280.793 ha
Armenia is a small, mountainous, landlocked country with few natural resources. With an area of 29,800 km2, it borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey.
Following independence in 1991, policy reforms also included the privatization of the agricultural sector. Large state farms that had dominated the agricultural sector during the Soviet Union were disbanded.
The dairy industry was depreciated and milk was consumed at the household level. Milk yields were low and processing conditions poor. The traditional animal husbandry and food processing methods did not meet the requirement to satisfy consumers.
The low milk yield of native dairy goats and the lack of industrialization experience were the reason to consider goats as a small ruminant species for development.
The milk production of native breeds is low (100 liters for 120 days of lactation season), resulting in inefficient farming.
Efforts from national and international agencies towards agriculture development in Armenia led to improvement in living standards, and increased rural development and economic growth in rural areas. Livestock development was approached to provide high quality agro-products to satisfy the market demands among consumers as well as increased incomes at the farm level. In 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) started a cattle and goat genetic improvement program in Armenia in close collaboration from the Armenian Agrarian University and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture. The native breeds that have special adaptive traits such as disease resistance, adaptation to the local climatic conditions, the ability to digest low-quality feed and to survive with reduced or uncertain supplies of feed and water are the “basic sources” for the ongoing genetic improvement project.
The Goat Industry Development Project (GIDP) was launched by the USDA to aid Armenian agriculture in developing an independent and economically viable dairy goat sector, product manufacturing, and marketing industry through technology transfer.