In Armenia’s Lori Region, planting cereal grains for bread and other staples has ground to a halt.
Grigor Hakobyan, Chief of the Agricultural and Environmental Department at the Lori Regional Authority, told Hetq that only 6,000 hectares of the 42,000 registered as “arable land” has received a fall planting of wheat.
“The state government allocated 294 tons of wheat seed for planting and we distributed it through all the villages,” said Hakօbyan. The fall planting continues until November 10 and he hopes the planted acreage will increase.
Last year, 8,700 hectares got a fall plating of wheat.
In 2011, the wheat harvest in Lori was 22,500 tons. It dropped to 20,500 tons this year. Hakobyan said that poor weather conditions caused the drop in production. Whatever the excuses, the fact that some 36,000 out of 42,000 remain uncultivated raises concerns.
Prices for 600 grams of bread produced by Alaverdi’s Bread Factory LLC have risen from 190 AMD to 230 in the last three months. Other cereal products have also risen in price.
Bread Factory Director Kamo Varosyan points to the rise in the price of flour as the culprit.
Bread prices have also gone up in the town of Vanadzor.
“People are buying a 400 gram loaf for 200 AMD. It’s terrible but what can you do? We constantly have to get used to these things,” said Margarita Gevorgyan, an accountant from Vanadzor.
Painter Gevorg Arakelyan also expressed his disgust over the rising prices.
“We’re angry. They say the wheat is coming from Canada, Russia the Far East and it’s getting more expensive. What can we poor folk do?”
Hetq also asked Lori Deputy regional Governor Arsen Darbinyan to weigh in on the price rise.
“It’s the international market price,” was his reply. He added that Lori’s wheat production only covers 20% of local demand and added that the region doesn’t have the vast tracts of arable land needed to meet total demand.
When I reminded him about the 1,200 hectares not being cultivated near Odzoun, Darbinyan shrugged his shoulders and exclaimed, “Hey, it’s because the villagers don’t want to work.”