CHF 12 mln for advancing growth in mountainous settlements of Armenia. Swiss SIGMA project kicks off

CHF 12 mln for advancing growth in mountainous settlements of Armenia. Swiss SIGMA project kicks off

On 22 March, 2024, the Sustainable Inclusive Growth in Mountainous Armenia (SIGMA) project officially launched in Yerevan. It is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by DAI Global UK (DAI) and its branch in Armenia, in cooperation with AM Partners Consulting Company as a local partner. SIGMA aims to reduce poverty and inequality in mountainous areas of Armenia in an inclusive, innovative and environmentally friendly manner.  With a budget of CHF 12 mln (if the financial situation of the SDC allows it over time), this ten-year project primarily targets rural settlements in the regions of Shirak, Lori, Tavush and Gegharkunik.

Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in Armenia, equally responsible for the Swiss Cooperation Programme in Armenia Werner Thut, along with other representatives from the Swiss Embassy, Government officials including Deputy Minister of Economy Arman Khojoyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Vache Terteryan as well as representatives from sectoral international and local organisations attended the event.

SIGMA is committed to creating higher incomes and employment opportunities for farmers, small agribusinesses and  tourism businesses in mountainous rural areas of targeted regions. This will be achieved by advancing agriculture and rural tourism which are essential sources of income in those settlements. To drive sustainable and inclusive growth, the project partners with different stakeholders both from the public and private sectors. It also fosters linkages between farmers, small rural businesses and established private companies, referred to as “catalysts of rural growth”, by utilising the Market System Development (MSD) approach. Within this framework, the project collaborates with “catalysts” to co-invest in the cross-cutting systems of agriculture and tourism sectors. Cross-cutting systems in agriculture are irrigation, agro-machinery, aggregation and processing, crop seeds and seedlings, beekeeping support services and agri-technologies. Cross-cutting systems in tourism are incubation for tourism businesses, tourism products, attractions and experiences, as well as marketing and linkages with international operators. These investments lead to the creation of innovative services that primarily enhance the core market systems targeted by the project - grains, legumes, potato, fruits and berries, vegetables, and beekeeping in agriculture, and agrotourism, cultural tourism, experiential tourism and ecotourism in the tourism sector.  Through access to these services, rural businesses and farmers improve their productivity and income, while accessing expanded markets with higher-value goods. Simultaneously, catalysts benefit by gaining new revenue streams as service providers.

To ensure sustainable and inclusive growth in mountainous Armenia SIGMA prioritises the economic participation of women, forcibly displaced people, persons with disabilities, and ethnic minorities in the project.

SIGMA is expected to generate higher incomes and create new/improved employment opportunities for more than 3400 households and small tourism businesses throughout its first phase from 2023 to 2026, with the number expected to increase to over 4000 by 2028. In subsequent stages, the project aims to extend its reach to other regions of Armenia by replicating its intervention models.

March 25, 2024 at 14:03