Humphrey Fellowship class of 2019-2020
Home country: Armenia
Current position: Director of Agricultural Technology Input and Service Department, Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Agroservice
Everything changed when I came to Cornell University as a Hubert Humphrey Fellow,” says Artak Khachatryan. Before coming to Cornell Artak had a limited understanding of climate change, but soon after his arrival he attended a Humphrey Seminar presented by Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, Director of the Cornell Climate Smart Solutions Program and senior research associate. During the seminar Artak learned that approximately 24% of the carbon dioxide emitted globally is the result of agricultural and land use activities. As an agriculturist and leader at CARD, this attracted his serious attention.
Subsequently, Dr. Chatrchyan introduced Artak to the Cornell Climate Smart Farming Program, which has developed smart agricultural solutions for New York State farmers while educating them about building resilience to the changing climate. She also invited Artak to join a Global Climate Change Science and Policy class that she co-teaches with Dr. Natalie Mahowald. There he learned about a range of national mitigation and adaptation plans from different countries.
Artak joined a group in the class that was helping the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Armenia to prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, to be held in Madrid in December 2019. The group was researching climate change effects on agriculture in Armenia and designing an extension program that could provide vital information to farmers. Artak was able to help the students in the group based on his work experience with the Ministry of Agriculture and the regional farm service centers of CARD. He was also introduced to the Teaching Assistant, Ms. Keelin Kelly, who was planning to write her senior honors thesis on farmers’ climate change views in Armenia. Artak helped to coordinate this project for Keelin and Dr. Chatrchyan, introducing them to his foundation (CARD) and helping them in-country by contributing his local agricultural expertise and language skills.
“Preliminary results indicated that Armenian farmers were well-aware of the escalating climate change impacts they were experiencing and feared that continued changes would make it impossible to continue farming”
The team conducted focus group interviews across five regions with approximately fifty farmers and service center managers. They also organized interviews with scientists and policy makers from the Armenian State Agrarian University, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, and the UNDP Armenia climate change program. Preliminary results indicated that Armenian farmers were well-aware of the escalating climate change impacts they were experiencing (drought, hail, and other unpredictable events) and feared that continued changes would make it impossible to continue farming.
The team’s results sparked the planning and implementation of the first workshop in the country on climate smart agriculture and climate change adaptation in Armenia. Over fifty representatives of government agencies, NGOs, agricultural organizations, the UN, and farmers attended! The event highlighted the growing interest in Armenia about climate smart agriculture and the exciting possibilities of engaging in productive partnerships with Cornell.