Vayots Dzor region, which has the smallest population in Armenia, is situated in the north of the country surrounded by mountains. This is a unique geographic island with unprecedented nature and extraordinary climate. The region is historically the homeland of world wine-making, being also famous for its healing mineral waters and resorts.
There is a tradition here: child or an elderly, woman or man, regardless of social status, position or hobby, go up to the mountains during the herb collecting season with their families to collect thyme, mint, hypericum and other herbs. They bring what they have collected to their homes, dry them and make healing teas and infusions.
“We just decided to make this tradition more public and make it a family business for us and for the local people putting soul and love into this job”,- said Grigor Mnatsakanyan, who is the director of “MEGA Ararat” company, which produces tea. The tea factory is situated near Vayk, at the foot of the mountain, and by the time we arrived there, the sweet scent of the tea made by Grigor’s mother, Mrs. Ruzanna, had spread around. Sitting around the hand-made wooden table under the mulberry tree, my interlocutor started his story- “Our family inherited the interest in herbs from my grandmother Emma: she was a biologist, a true expert of herbs. She has taught me and my uncle Mkhitar Matevosyan, who founded our company, the usage and feature of every herb”. In 2005 “MEGA Ararat” company was founded by Mkhitar Matevosyan. “At first it was tough, the volumes were small, we had financial and marketing problems. A short time later we hired our first employee. Currently, we have 10 employees, and depending on the season, that number can exceed 20”,- tells Grigor.
Currently, the company harvests seven types of herbs- thyme, mint, chamomile, hypericum, linden, hawthorn and dog rose. During the mechanic processing of those herbs Grigor uses the equipment designed and constructed by him.
They work mainly with the local people, but they also have providers form other regions and Artsakh. The price of harvesting depends on the type and quality of the herb, but according to Grigor, one person can receive from 7-13 thousand AMD for the collected herbs in one day.
The majority of the products of “MEGA Ararat” company are exported to the Russian Federation. “As the local herb market is small, we mostly don’t engage in sales of our products in Armenia in order not to harm the local small entrepreneurs. Since the beginning we have worked on organizing the export of our products, and if the export to Russia was relatively easy, the same export to Europe was a really difficult problem connected with the process costs and organization of product sales. Last autumn the manager of ACBA-CREDIT AGRICOLE BANK “Vayk” branch Tigran Mirzoyan called me and told me that there was going to be a seminar regarding organic certification of products, and a project and offered to participate”,- notes Grigor.
This year, on the 7th of October the competition of “Organic product certification” program has launched. The entities interested in this project can download the application here until the 7th of November, fill it in and send to the email mentioned in the application.
Currently the production of the company has been certified after taking part in the organic products exhibition in Germany with the co-financing of NABU and the Bank. Several months before with the invitation of ACBA-CREDIT AGRICOLE BANK a delegation of German businessman had arrived in Armenia. During the visit they also came to our factory, and now we are negotiating to export the products of “MEGA Ararat” to Germany. “If previously we produced 15-20 tons of tea, after entering the European market, the volumes will be doubled by several times,- my interlocutor said with excitement and added,- we feel joy and satisfaction when we see the results of our activities: these are the results of the joint hard work of our family, people working with us, our partners, and however hard, we are more than sure that everything will be alright”.