Thank you. President Sargsyan, Ambassador Yovanovitch, distinguished guests, good afternoon to all of you.
It is good to be here in a country that is so rich in history and culture, and with people who are so generous and hospitable.
I would especially like to thank President Sargsyan for his support of MCC. I would also like to recognize Ambassador Yovanovitch for her leadership.
Together we are making important strides in the fight to reduce poverty and improve the lives of all Armenians.
As you all know, we are nearing the end of Armenia’s 5-year compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. I am here today to see the progress that has been made in the last five years.
I am pleased to say that, based on the reports that I am getting and the projects that I have seen this week, I believe our work together has been a success.
When MCC first began working with Armenia, we found that 85 percent of crops were produced using irrigation. But only 10 percent of agricultural land was irrigated. It was clear that we could make Armenia’s agricultural sector more productive and efficient if we expanded irrigation and good water management. So together, we developed a compact to that is expected to improve irrigation on 69,000 hectares of farmland in Armenia.
Now, we are seeing the results: more than 45,000 farmers have received training and 8.5 million dollars have been provided in credit to producers and agribusinesses.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet Satenik Ghazaryan , who runs her family farm and demonstration site in Aramus. She has set up a green house at her demonstration site. And she has learned new ways to manage water and fertilizer, and diversify her crops. Satenik told me her farm is now more profitable. And her neighbors are following her example and building their own greenhouses.
There are many stories like this across Armenia today. In fact, when the compact is completed, we expect it to benefit more than 420,000 people in about 350 rural communities across Armenia. Agriculture income per hectare is expected to rise by approximately 25 percent in the project area resulting from adoption of new practices learned by farmers through the training. These are preliminary estimates that require further validation through the impact evaluation that is underway.
As we cut the ribbon today on this newly refurbished pumping station, I am reminded of an old story of two masons at work together. When asked what they were doing, the first mason responded, “I am laying bricks.” But the second mason, although he was doing the same work, saw the true purpose of his task. He said, “I am building a beautiful cathedral.”
Like that second mason, when I look at this pumping station, I see more than just bricks and mortar.
I see an investment in the future of Armenia that will benefit your families and the families of generations to come.
Congratulations on this accomplishment.