15 Nov, 2020

Bilezikian Grafting Facility Opens in Karin

The Bilezikian grafting facility officially opened in Karin Nursery on September 18, 2020, with a small ceremony attended by ATP’s Yerevan staff and the nursery employees. Under normal circumstances, a much more elaborate celebration would have marked this great advancement in fruit tree propagation for ATP. 

With the new cold room, ATP is able to conduct both winter and summer grafting, which means we’ll be seeing an increase in fruit tree production and have more fruit trees for plantings and distribution to village residents!

Since Armenia relies heavily on the agricultural sector for its economy, there is a huge demand for fruit trees in the village communities, and ATP will now be able to meet more of these needs. Up until now, ATP has produced, distributed and planted approximately 8,000 fruit trees each year. With the many developments that have taken place at ATP’s nurseries, ATP’s fruit tree supply will be raised to an estimated 20-25,000 seedlings per year.

ATP produces different species of indigenous and adapted fruit trees in its nurseries, all of which are grafted to ensure high quality and abundant yields. Types include apple, apricot, almond, cherry, jojoba, mulberry, pear, peach, persimmon, plum, quince and walnut. In recent years ATP is also propagating dwarf species of apple, cherry, pear and plum trees, for which there is a high demand. Dwarf fruit trees yield more fruit and in relatively less time. They don’t grow very tall or large, hence the term “dwarf”, and take up less space in fields, making work easier and more advantageous for farmers. 

More than 4,301,302 kg / 9,482,747 pounds of fruit have been harvested from ATP’s trees throughout the years, benefiting local communities and institutions.

After winter grafting this year, the seedlings will be stored in the grafting facility’s cold room (aka temperature controlled room) and remain until spring planting season. The plants will be frozen in order to delay their vegetative period until springtime comes, when they can be planted. The cold room has the capacity to hold about 30,000 grafted fruit tree cuttings at once. It has both hot and cold modes. The cuttings are kept warm in the first dozen days, until the grafts have “taken,” and then the room is set to cold mode, at about 0-2 °C.

The building, which is situated beside the Karin nursery greenhouse, was acquired in 2019 with the support of Gregory Bilezikian. The ramshackle building was transformed into the grafting facility, which includes a temperature controlled room (aka cold room), workroom, storage space, kitchen and bathroom. 

“I want to thank Gregory Bilezikian on behalf of all my colleagues for giving us this grafting facility. It’s going to make our work much more efficient, and we now have very comfortable quarters to work and rest in,” said Rodina Ghazaryan, an ATP employee of 20 years and a former refugee from Azerbaijan.

Karin village was formed in 1991, primarily for resettling Armenians who fled Azerbaijan during the late 1980s. ATP established its first nursery there in 1996 to be able to produce its own tree seedlings. The nursery currently has a full-time staff of 10, all of whom are former refugees, and has produced over 600,000 high quality fruit and decorative trees for ATP’s community planting program.