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Armenia’s Agriculture Ministry Finally Acknowledges Grape Farmers Are Being Deceived

Armenia’s Ministry of Agriculture has asked the office of the prosecutor general to initiate legal action against Vinar winery “for failure to fulfill agriculture commitments,” the ministry’s press service said on Wednesday evening. According to the official statement, “, in a press conference on December 21, deputy agriculture minister Robert Makaryan rebuked unscrupulous suppliers and stood up for the villagers’ violated rights.”

“This sets a precedent, since the ministry has always tried to solve such problems in the professional environment, but this is in exceptional case, which, I think, will become a straitjacket for unscrupulous suppliers in the future. Right now I don’t want to give assessments; the preliminary investigation will find out the detail; however, the perpetrators must be brought to justice. To prevent a recurrence of similar situations, the villagers should raise their legal awareness and demand restoration of their violated rights,” Makaryan told reporters.

Note, grape farmers from the village of Kaghtrashen in Armenia’s Ararat province – who after an unusually rich harvest in the fall of 2015 had to sell their grapes to the local Vinar winery for as little as 40 drams per kilogram – have fruitlessly been fighting for over a year and staging numerous demonstrations outside government offices in Yerevan to get the winery to pay for the procured produce. During one of the protest actions, newly-appointed agriculture minister Ignati Arakelyan had promised the villagers that they would get the money by December 1, but the winegrowers insist that they are yet to receive anything.

“The debt of over AMD 100 million has accumulated as a result of the company management’s negligence and irresponsibility,” Makaryan said today. According to him, the factory owner had initially said that he could not pay the villagers’ money because Vinar had not managed to sell its alcohol; “When the ministry found a buyer, however, it turned out that the factory does not event have enough alcohol.”

Nevertheless, the deputy minister informed that the Proshyan brandy factory has bought AMD 16,5 million worth of alcohol from Vinar, and this money will soon be transferred to the grape farmers’ bank accounts.