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Armenian Farmers Block Highway, Demand Higher Price For Grape Harvest

Falling grape prices have been a recurrent problem for Armenian farmers. (file photo)

ARMAVIR, Armenia -- Farmers in western Armenia have blocked a major highway leading to the capital, Yerevan, to push their demand that distillers offer a higher price for grapes grown in local vineyards.

The protest action early on September 4 paralyzed traffic, causing delays for many drivers and commuters.

The farmers in the region have contracts with the Yerevan Brandy Company for the supply of produce.

They complain that a local branch of the firm in western Armenia lowered its purchasing price in 2018 by about 4 cents per kilogram.

Meanwhile, the farmers say their production costs have increased in 2018 and they are dissatisfied with the current purchasing price of about 25 cents per kilogram.

They say that price only covers the cost of producing their crops and leaves them with no income.

“Prices for chemicals and diesel fuel have increased,” one farmer involved in the September 4 protest told RFE/RL. “They do not explain how they set the purchasing price. Today they set one price. Tomorrow they may lower it.”

Gagik Gabrielian, the deputy governor of Armenia's western province of Armavir, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on September 4 that liquor firms offer a price for grapes based on the quality and quantity of the produce.

Falling grape prices have been a recurrent problem for Armenian farmers in the wine-growing region of Armavir, in particular.

In some recent years, distillers have gone so far as to cut the volume of their purchases, citing falling sales.

With reporting by RFE/RL Armenian Service correspondent Gayane Saribekian