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Agriculture Again Slows Armenian Growth

Bagrat Asatrian, a former governor of the Armenian Central Bank, also advises "looking to god" to fix Armenia's agriculture.
YEREVAN -- Armenia's economic recovery further slowed last month due to a persistent decline in agricultural production and the construction sector, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Armenian economy grew by 2.8 percent from January-September, in contrast to a 3.1 percent growth during the first eight months of 2010, according to the National Statistical Service (NSS).

The growth was primarily dragged down by the agricultural market, which continued to show an 18-percent year-on-year decline in September as it did for the rest of the year.

Bagrat Asatrian, a former Central Bank governor critical of Armenian officials, said on October 21 that the agricultural downturn -- due largely to poor weather this year -- will continue to lower the country's Gross Domestic Product.

"Our village and our agriculture depend more on God than on any program -- that's the reality," he said. "Circumstances bode ill for the village, and we will be reaping these fruits until the end of the year."

Speaking about agriculture in an interview with RFE/RL last month, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian also suggested "looking to God" for answers.

"You should go to church and pray to God," he said. "Is there a person in the world who can say what is going to happen to agriculture? Now it is very difficult to make forecasts as to what the climate conditions will be during the sowing campaigns this autumn or next spring. But it is obvious that we are carrying out the most serious reforms in our agriculture."

Late last month the International Monetary Fund scaled down its GDP projection for Armenia to 4 percent.

The IMF's resident representative in Yerevan, Guillermo Tolosa, said on September 29 that they had revised their projections "because the extent of the shock to the agricultural sector had not been anticipated in our previous missions."