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Yeranuhi Soghoyan

Taking Beekeeping to New Levels; Martin Sargsyan Keeps 150 Year-Old Tradition Alive

Metz Sariar is a village in Armenia’s Shirak Province, just 18 km far from Gyumri. 

29-year-old Martin Sargsyan will soon be opening a honey tasting room, tonratoon (bread baking hearth) and a guesthouse in the village. 

Three years ago, when he started construction on the hill, neither his friends nor the family believed in his plans. The situation in the village was quite hopeless. 

Sargsyan recalls one of his pessimistic friends visiting him one day. Sitting by the fireplace and feeling the warmth of the place made him change his opinion. Now, a solid two-story building is going to open its doors to visitors.

The Sargsyan family has been in the beekeeping business for 150 years.

“My ancestors settled in Metz Sariar during the years of emigration, fleeing from the village of Kyurakdara in Kars Province, now Kurdish-populated. My ancestors kept bees both there and here," says Sargsyan. 

However, the beekeeping tradition was in danger in the family. Martin, being the only child in the family, first graduated from the Gyumri Pedagogical Institute English language department, and then worked in insurance for years.

"I was despondent," admits Martin's father, 56-year-old Aghvan Sargsyan. 

"Martin was busy with his own job. He completely neglected both the village and the bees. I thought that nobody would take care of the bees after me, and I put my mind to talking seriously one night, " Aghvan Sargsyan recalls.

Martin remembers both that evening and the decisive conversation. He understood his father's concerns very well. To prove that the 150-year history of the family would not be lost, Martin left for the village in a few days and laid the foundations for the future business plan next to his grandfather's old house.

"Honestly, I didn't want to do what all the beekeepers do," Martin says. "We have 100 beehives, and depending on the year, we have as much or as little honey as everyone else. I wanted to make it more marketable. My friends and I have been thinking for a long time about the product and the packaging to offer. I wanted the Sargsyan Honey brand to be associated not only with the quality of the honey but also with the idea of ​​a nice present," Martin says. 

Wooden boxes, almonds, nuts, pumpkin seeds and other useful crops mixed with honey make Sargsyans’ product attractive. Martin believes it’s very important, especially for foreign market. 

“One of my friends advised me to take part in the competition announced by the Integrated Rural Tourism Development Program, implemented by the UNDP. He said it would give me a chance to understand my own plans and win money to implement them. To be honest, I didn't believe anything would come of it. I always thought these types of projects were only for acquaintances," Martin laughs. "I was quite surprised when my idea had passed to the competition stage and was funded with $20,000, " he says.

Martin says participating in the project has changed a lot of things in his life and strengthened his faith in his own power. 

“Most important for me, I would say, more important than money, was that foreigners approved of me, my plan, my idea. It was truly exciting. Now my excitement has passed to my friends: they also want to invest in this or another village,” Martin says with a smile.

Martin believes that Metz Sariar provides possibilities both for passive and active leisure. The pine forest next to the village is a great location for active recreation, especially in winter. "We've decided to buy skis for the winter. There are plenty of places to ski if active tourists prefer it," says Martin.

Construction work is still underway in the courtyard of the guesthouse. Janibek Rafayelyan, one of the eldest inhabitants of Metz Sariar, approaches us and invites us to try out his "immortal" drink - raspberry vodka. 

"I make vodka from different fruits, but this is something different. If you do not visit now, that’s ok, I’m sure you will visit this village again, because I already feel the expected changes  thanks to Martin’s work. Imagine if there were young people starting good jobs in every village - the villages would flourish,” says Rafayelyan.

Comments (1)

Հալալ է ՍԱՐԻԱՐցիներին։ Միշտ դուխով, միշտ առաջ ! Հաջողություն ձեզ. . .

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