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Bavra Bureaucracy: Armenian Tarragon Farmers Not Allowed Into Georgia; Produce Rots

Bavra Bureaucracy: Armenian Tarragon Farmers Not Allowed Into Georgia; Produce Rots

While Armenia’s Minister of Agriculture promises to improve the lot of the country’s rural farmers, making it easier for them to sell their produce, it appears that just the opposite is happening.

Yesterday, five residents of the Aghvanatoun village in Armavir, tool 30,000 bunches of fresh tarragon to the Armenian customs house of Bavra on the Georgian border. They planned to sell their produce on the other side.

Armenian customs official kept the people waiting for several hours due to alleged computer problems. Later that night, the officials told the villagers that they had no directives pertaining to farm produced “greens” and thus couldn’t let the stuff pass.

Dejected, the villagers had to reload the crates of tarragon and find somewhere to dump it all. The greens had gone bad.

Today, those same villagers went to the Ararat Customs House to complain. They were told to take their petition to the State Revenue Committee.

Pavlik Misakyan, one of the tarragon merchants, told Hetq that he lost 2 million AMD in just one day due to government ineptitude.

Misakyan said that no one at the State Revenue Committee could provide specifics as to why the produce wasn’t allowed to cross the border into Georgia.

Every day, Georgians cross into Armenia and buy large quantities of tarragon from Armenian villagers at cheap prices. The Georgians then take the produce back for resale.

The irked villagers then paid a visit to the Ministry of Agriculture for some answers.

“A middle aged guy came out to see us, saying he was the deputy minister,” says Pavlik.

The tarragon merchant says the official was just as indifferent to their plight, arguing that the ministry had nothing to do with foreign commerce.

Pavlik and the other villagers assured us that they had done their homework before taking their produce to the border. That’s to say they had all the necessary paperwork, or so they thought.

Pavlik said he owns 40 tarragon hothouses and employs 8 workers during the growing season at a salary of 4,000 AMD daily.

“You would think that the government would be interested in supporting farmers like me who invest loads of money and employ people,” he said. “Why do they let the Georgians come to Armenia and buy our produce? They should be defending us instead.”

Pavlik and fellow farmer Haykaz Haroutyunyan are quick to blame the agriculture ministry, charging them with being all talk and no action.

The farmers are still waiting for some answers from the government. Otherwise, they say they will go to the courts for compensation.