The beekeeping Sargsyan family, who reportedly own the majority of Getavan’s 500-some beehives, are not the only ones to benefit from their proximity to the highway.
Over the past few months, three new grocery stores and two canteens have opened in this village of 353 people, claims Sargsyan. A barbecue restaurant and natural-gas station, also financed by Armenian and Karabakhi businessmen, are in the works, too.
For a Karabakh village, that’s a building boom.
The change reflects a trend, villagers say – less need to chase after business. Rather than selling their produce –fresh meat, walnuts, hazelnuts and beans – in nearby villages and Karabakh’s main town, Stepanakert, local farmers now also sell to buyers from Vardenis, the road’s Armenian end point, as well as from the large towns of Martuni and Gavar near Armenia’s Lake Sevan.
“It’s very convenient as the prices are good and the villagers don’t have to cover travel expenses,” comments Lyudmila Arstamyan, the secretary of Getavan’s municipal administration. “Formerly, Stepanakert was the only market.”
The entrepreneurial Sargsyan, whose 90 beehives render 800 kilograms of honey each year, has seen his own customer base shift, too.
Over the past few months, most of his customers have become travelers on the Martakert-Vardenis road; in particular, tourists from France, Moldova and Russia. “Before this, I managed to sell the honey only through the personal connections of my relatives,” he explains.
To keep cashing in, he has rented land next to the road and next year plans to open a small honey shop alongside his beehives.