Burning Questions
Fellowship Award Winners

Kiara S. Winans; Irina Mkrtchyan

Location: United States (Winans), Armenia (Mkrtchyan)
Academic field: Environmental science and engineering (Winans), Sustainability (Mkrtchyan)
Award category: PhD Team
Topics to be Addressed during the Award Period

Guidance Memo

  • Title: “Large–scale cattle and pig production systems in three regions of Armenia: Engaging frontline persons in assessing the environmental, animal, & human health conditions of these systems”
  • Keywords: Armenia. Dairy and beef production. Pig production. Large-scale producers. Role of government.
  • DOI: 10.15868/socialsector.37329
  • What We Learned From It:
    • An excellent overview and assessment of developments in large-scale cattle and pig productions in Armenia as seen in 2020, why they are happening and where they are heading, especially with regard to these production systems’ impact on the environment, animal wellbeing, and human health.
    • Suggestions of possible ways to generate linkages and partnerships among producers of large scale and small scale, the government, and consumers. For example, collaborations to develop awareness programs and adequate incentives for best practice in the management of manure and discarded plastics (both of which are serious problems currently).
    • We found the following particularly informative: Delineation of on-the-ground production processes with actual data (e.g. market price of the cheese produced); overall economic status of production in three main animal production regions/marzes in Armenia; current government policies and incentives that influence cattle and pig production systems (e.g. subsidized water and electricity, coronavirus-related programs); using LCA/lifecycle assessment to account for the environmental and human health impacts associated with the large-scale and small-scale cattle and pig and poultry production systems in Armenia.


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • Raising cattle and pigs on a large scale happens in Armenia and is developing steadily. But when one thinks of places in the world with industrial animal agriculture, Armenia does not leap to one’s mind. We therefore welcome the applicant’s focus on Armenia and the proposed work to offer a broad characterization of large-scale dairy, beef, and pork production systems so that there is a better understanding of the pathways and drivers involved.
  • We also like the attention to specific practical matters/issues, the collection of data from fieldwork, and the inclusion of a range of stakeholders (e.g. government, NGOs, farmers) in addition to covering broad topics.
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