BAKU, 10 May, 2020 – Online inception of the project Catalyzing the efficiency and sustainability of Azerbaijan’s hazelnut sector – HAZER” took place today. This inception workshop brought together Government officials of Azerbaijan working with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), including the Department of fruits and vegetables and FAO experts.
The main goal of the project is to empower smallholder farmers to adopt Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to increase production efficiency of hazelnut, with adapted mechanization technologies and services and to increase the quality of nuts produced, with a specific focus on reducing the risk of aflatoxin contamination. “I would like perhaps to highlight the importance of working with different stakeholders on the hazelnut sector, including small and medium farmers and allowing them to feel ownership throughout the project implementation to ensure sustainability in the long term. The project will be a collective effort to enhance the quality and productivity of hazelnut production to improve the livelihoods of farmers in the field.”-said Mayling Flores Rojas, Expert on agricultural mechanization systems. The project empower newly established Government institutes and state agencies while linking to private sector actors. All the outputs and activities are designed to achieve the development of the capacities of actors in the sector for sustainable improvement of hazelnut production. FAO’s technical capacity in crop production and protection, genetic resources conservation, mechanization, remote sensing mapping, bioenergy, monitoring, and evaluation all play an important role in providing the right support. “The goal is to improve the productivity and quality of hazelnuts and increase incomes, business opportunities, social equity, and environmental protection. The success of the project will be guaranteed through active partnerships between technical, government agencies, and the private sector and will be governed by a National Technical Committee”-said Fenton Beed, Senior Agricultural Officer at FAO HQ.
Azerbaijan is one of the world’s top five hazelnut producers (along with Turkey, Italy, the United States of America, and Georgia). The total production of hazelnuts in 2018 was 52,000 metric tons (FAOSTAT) and recent years have experienced significant support from Government incentives (including for land, seedlings, fertilizer, machinery, and export revenue returns). Azerbaijan predominantly exported raw hazelnuts to low-profit markets such as Russia. Improvements in the hazelnut sector have a great potential to sustainably increase the quantity and quality of Azerbaijan’s hazelnut production and export, contributing to the goal of diversification of the economy.
To address the challenges described above the project “Catalyzing the efficiency and sustainability of Azerbaijan’s hazelnut sector” (HAZER) was developed under the FAO-Azerbaijan Partnership Programme (FAPP) with the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan.