What a privilege to join you today to mark the closeout of the 177 million dollar compact between Armenia and the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. Thank you for your genuine hospitality and welcome. By making strategic investments in irrigation infrastructure, transportation and agribusinesses, our partnership is reducing rural poverty and spurring sustainable economic growth. The Armenia-MCC partnership exemplifies the ties of friendship and cooperation that unite our two great countries and peoples. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you to celebrate.
MCC’s CEO Daniel Yohannes regrets that he could not be here today. He asked that I convey his warmest personal regards and congratulations on this momentous occasion. When he visited Armenia last May he was pleased with the progress made through Armenia’s MCC compact. Daniel very much enjoyed the time he spent talking with beneficiaries. By hearing their stories, he learned firsthand of the positive impact the Armenia-MCC partnership has had on the lives of Armenians.
The impact is indeed impressive.
There’s an Armenian proverb that says, “You don't satisfy your hunger by watching others work.” Clearly, Armenians took matters into their own hands and worked with singular determination and diligence to fulfill a hunger for opportunity, development, jobs, and growth. After all, Armenia’s MCC compact is by and for the people of Armenia.
Through your efforts, Armenia’s irrigation infrastructure experienced the single largest refurbishment in the last 30 years. This means a more reliable water supply to irrigate even more hectares of land, which increases the productivity and profits of Armenian farmers. Your farmers are also adopting new technical skills, boosting production of higher-value crops, which command higher prices. Because of the MCC investment in irrigation and training, the annual income of Armenian farmers is expected to increase by 200 percent over 20 years. Almost one-third of Armenia’s farming households, comprising 427,000 rural residents in 350 communities, stand to benefit.
Through your efforts, Armenia’s MCC compact provided over 8.5 million dollars in loans to 760 farmers—including women farmers—to make capital improvements to their agribusinesses. Because of this, we see new greenhouses, expanded freezing facilities and working orchards and vineyards.
Through your efforts, the institutions that help manage the delivery of water to farmers and the maintenance of the irrigation canals are empowered. Capacity-building investments and newly-enacted irrigation policies and legislation are working to ensure the sustainability of the irrigation system.
While we conclude Armenia’s MCC compact today, the impact must continue. The agricultural sector must grow even stronger and create further opportunities for farmers and agribusinesses.
I’d invite the people of this great country to sustain with pride the results of your MCC compact.
This involves deepening necessary policy reforms, including reforms toward democratic governance.
This means strengthening key institutions.
This means partnering with the private sector, including the Armenian diaspora, to build upon or alongside MCC-funded investments.
What we launch today—a self-sufficient, thriving agriculture sector—will fuel the Armenian economy’s overall growth. I congratulate the people of Armenia for this achievement. I commend the professionalism and perseverance of MCA-Armenia for guiding the compact to completion.
Armenia’s MCC partnership has placed the country on a path to greater prosperity. I ask you now to build upon and sustain the progress underway, creating a better life of opportunity and growth for this generation and those to come.
Thank you so much.