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Narek Aleksanyan

Hailstorm Hit Farmers: "We want the government to freeze our loan payments"

Representatives of 47 rural communities whose plantings were wiped out in a recent hailstorm scoffed at government assistance proposals, labelling them as insufficient and ill-targeted.

Yeghiazar Asmaryan, from the village of Pokr Armavir, told reporters that his spring crop “had been levelled to the ground” and that the government’s offer of new seed would only result in a small harvest come the fall.

“All we are asking is for the government to freeze our loan payments so that we can get back on our feet and be able to pay them next year, said Mr. Asmaryan.

Asatour Hayrapetyan, another Pokr Armavir resident, said he heard nothing encouraging during a visit to the affected communities by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

“Most villagers have taken an average of 2-3 million AMD in loans from the banks. The government argues that the lenders are private banks and that it can do nothing. Such an approach can only encourage further migration from the country,” said Mr. Hayrapetyan, adding that it will take three years for his grapevines to recoup and that he doesn’t know how his family will survive in the interim.

“A few weeks ago you could say we were socially protected. Today, practically all of us are socially unprotected,” said Pokr Aravir resident Srapion Nazaryan.

Nareh Grigoryan, a representative of the “Movement to Assist Residents of Armavir”, told reporters that for the past week local farmers have been voicing their pain while the government is still tallying the damage.

“There’s a wise adage that says if the spring sun doesn’t warm me, there is no need for the autumn sun,” Asatour Hayrapetyan noted.

Photo left to right – Yeghiazar Asmaryan, Asatour Hayrapetyan, Nareh Grigoryan, Srapion Nazaryan