In the old days, if you walked into an Armenian house during New Year, you might find dried fruits hanging from the ceiling. That is how Navasard – the ancient Armenian New Year and the country’s favourite pre-Christian holiday – used to be celebrated. The holiday cleberates an event over 4,500 years ago marking the dawn of the Armenian Republic and the hanging dried fruits were used as decoration symbolizing fertility. Today, portions of the treats cover tables during traditional Armenian celebrations.
It is clear that dried fruits play an important role in Armenian tradition, but their significance to the country’s economy is far from what it could be. Only 0.4% of Armenian fruit production is dried and sold. Every year, the country ends up importing 1035 tonnes of the product and exporting only 188 tonnes.
“It is in their tradition and the world knows there is very good dried fruit coming from Armenia, but the country is not very competitive at producing and selling those products,” says Frank Hartwich, a UNIDO Industrial Development Officer.