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Promoting Agribusiness Opportunities for Youth in Armenia

The post-Soviet country of Armenia is a melting pot of diverse cultures and is still recovering economically after two decades of post-communist struggle. A landlocked country in the Caucasus range, Armenia depends on agriculture for about 40 percent of employment, though many youth aspire to work in other sectors like finance or technology. This divide leaves many young people out of work and, despite nearly universal school enrollment through the secondary level, the unemployment rate among young adults still hovers around 40 percent.

Armenia’s International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education is working to increase entry-level employment opportunities through its Agribusiness Teaching Center, which trains some of Armenia’s best and brightest in finance, marketing, communications and management. The program, which was established and has grown through support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Texas A&M University, sends many graduates on to high-level jobs as bankers, entrepreneurs and agribusiness professionals.

But the Agribusiness Teaching Center is still small and demand for admission is high. That’s why the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Innovation for Agricultural Training and Education program, a demand-driven capacity development platform under the Feed the Future initiative, is partnering to ensure USDA’s legacy and support the Center’s growth by increasing the capacity of faculty and administration to offer a wider range of agricultural curricula, secure adequate and sustained funding, and create more opportunities for internships and research.

The Agribusiness Teaching Center is addressing unemployment by changing the way youth approach the job market and equipping them with relevant skills to fill jobs that can contribute to the country’s economic growth. To do this, the Center offers cutting-edge programs that target emerging agribusiness industries, such as vineyard cultivation, which leverages Armenia’s rich volcanic soils.

With these early individual and institutional capacity development efforts proving successful, the U.S. Government and its partners are exploring how to make the program applicable in a variety of contexts so that it can be transferable to Feed the Future focus countries. Already, this work in Armenia has sparked new collaborations in Jordan and Tajikistan.  

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