April 3 2014

April 3, 2014 - 8:55am, by Giorgi Lomsadze

Against the darkness of night, an Armenian villager was filmed by
the news service A1+ this week lighting candles around her tomato
and potato seedlings. It was no occult ritual. Alina Ambardzumian was
trying to protect her crops from vicious late frost, feared by some
to have wiped out most of this year's harvest.

Other farmers in the village of Ayanist also have been sticking candles
around their crops, creating churchly scenes. They believe that the
warmth of candlelight will save the seedlings. "We put over them four
layers of cellophane and lit the candles. Now we just need to wait
for what is God's will,"Ambardzumian told A1+. "If we don't do this,
we will have nothing to eat throughout the year," she added.

According to a local farmers' association, Kavkazsky Uzel reports,
last weekend's unseasonable blizzard has destroyed an estimated 90
percent of the apricots which are the pride-and-joy-fruit of Armenia.No
official estimates of the apricot loss, or other agricultural damage
is available yet, but Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has reported
about entire apricot orchards frozen over in the western agricultural
region of Aragatsotn.

The blizzard, which raged through Armenia for several days, also
wiped out other fruit, like cherries and grapes.

Farmers now worry about both this year's ration of fruits and veggies
and about repaying their bank loans. Inevitably, many angry eyes have
turned to the government.

Their anger cannot easily be ignored; agriculture -- largely
subsistence farming, vulnerable to the elements -- employs about
45 percent of the population, according to the Swiss Agency for
Cooperation and Development.

The Ministry of Agriculture reportedly warned farmers about the
impending disaster, but offered little help other than recommending the
old trick of setting up bonfires near crops. Many farmers complained
that they could not afford getting enough firewood to burn for several
days, as the government suggested, and, instead, used candles.

The government now is considering assistance ideas, but no
farmer-bailout plan has been announced yet.

From: A. Papazian