(MENAFN- AzerNews) By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have launched a joint project in the field of hazelnut production, Ministry's press service reported on June 12.
Chairman of the Agricultural credit and development agency Mirza Aliyev stated that the total budget for the project is $1.3 million.
The project aims to increase productivity through the development of supply chains for growing hazelnuts in Azerbaijan, increase the efficiency of hazelnut production using intensive technologies, improve the quality of products by reducing the risk of aflatoxin.
"There is a growing interest in the development of hazelnuts in Azerbaijan. In recent years, new gardens have been planted on more than 20,000 hectares. According to 2019, Azerbaijan ranks third in the world on hazelnut exports after Turkey and Italy. Last year hazelnut was the third largest non-oil commodity exported to the country, worth $124.2 million after tomatoes and gold," Mirza Aliyev said.
Furthermore, agency's chairman stressed the importance of increasing the yield per hectare in hazelnut orchards.
"The yield per hectare in hazelnut orchards is low. The average yield per hectare in our country's hazelnut industry is 1.2 tons. However, this figure is lower than the highest productivity in the world. At the same time, aflatoxin and other problems, which negatively affect the quality of products, do not allow us to fully utilize the existing potential of this sector, he added.
Likewise, the Azerbaijani government provides necessary support to overcome existing difficulties in this direction. As an example, Mirza Aliyev noted that agency provided a soft loan of AZN 368,000 ($216,470) for development of the hazelnut industry in 2019-2020. Farmers were provided AZN 319.900 ($188,176) in the form of benefits and AZN 206.100 ($121,235) in the form of loans for equipment for hazelnut production.
At the same time, subsidies worth AZN 10,2 million ($6,02M) were provided to 32,366 farmers for hazelnut production in 2019-2020.
Azerbaijan is among the top-5 countries producing hazelnuts in the world along with Turkey, Italy, the US and Georgia.
In November 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the government of Azerbaijan signed a partnership program for 2016-2020.
Azerbaijan has been a member of the FAO since 1995. The organization's office in the country has been operating since 2007.
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