azerbaijanAzerbaijan, officially known as the Republic of Azerbaijan, is the largest country in the Caucasus region, located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It was a part of Soviet Union until its independence in 1991, and is now a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The country borders Caspian Sea on the eastern side. Azerbaijan’s population is about 9 million, and the name of the capital city is Baku. Not long ago, the country had a war with the neighboring Armenia which not only displaced a large number of people but also slowed down the pace of development.

Context

Context

Azerbaijan is administratively divided into 10 economic regions, 66 districts (rayons) and 77 cities (sahar). Mountains occupy about half of the country although there are vast flat lands in the central region. Also present are mountain ranges and thousands of small and big rivers. About 18 percent of the country lies below sea level. Azerbaijan has three types of climate: temperate in the southeast along the coastline; temperate dry in the center and northeast; and cold in the rest of the country.

The agricultural sector of Azerbaijan, the second most important natural resource after oil, is highly diversified due to varying topography. Major food crops include wheat, barley, vegetables, grapes and other fruits, while the main cash crops are cotton and tobacco. Livestock constitute an important economic sub-sector. The agricultural land comprises, besides forests, cropland, pastures, and rangeland. Rainfall is low and most of the cultivated land is irrigated. Average size of individual land holdings is 3 to 5 hectares. The agricultural sector accounted for about 20 percent of the national GDP between 1997 and 2001, but then it started declining. The deteriorating irrigation infrastructure, soil fertility depletion, erosion, salinity and pollution reduced the agriculture’s contribution to GDP to just 5.2 percent in 2010. While the government continues to own most of the pasture land, small-scale farmers now produce more than 90 percent of the agricultural output.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

47,668

57.69

1,885,700

22.81

0.20

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

13.41

2009

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

5.75

130.21

2.69

14.10

2011

2011

2011

2011

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

5290

2011

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

99.75

99.94

99.95

99.98

97.95

2009

2009

2009

2009

2011

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

108.74

50

2011

2011

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

9,173,082

110.97

4,252,200

46.35

22.79

4,705,374

1,085,000

23.05

53.36

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

2010

2011

2011

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

History

History of extension and the enabling/disabling environment

There is not much of history of agricultural extension in Azerbaijan. Like most other countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union Block, Azerbaijan also inherited technology dissemination function embedded into the operation of large commercial, state-owned farms. Various subject-matter specialists, who operated the state farms, occasionally advised small family farm owners.

With the end of the Soviet era, an independent Azerbaijan was faster than other countries in the region to initiate land reforms around 1997. The reforms concentrated on liquidation or privatization of state trade organizations, disbanding of large state and collective farms, and distribution of land among private individuals. By the end of 1999, about 1.3 million hectare of cultivated land had been distributed among about 790,000 holders. The privatization of land ownership quickly highlighted not only the new farmers’ inability to properly operate their family farms but also a lack of specialists who could advise them on comprehensive farm management and marketing.

Donor-funded projects, such as a regional project “Support to Private Initiatives in Agriculture”, funded by GTZ (now GIZ) and implemented in Zaqatala District starting 1998, have aimed at establishing advisory services mostly on private lines. A project started by the Diakonie Deutschland in 1996, led to the creation of a national NGO called Agro Information Center of Azerbaijan (AIM), which functions as an advisory center. Similarly, another NGO called Ganja Agri-business Association (GABA), was established through joint funding by the Eurasia Foundation and USAID, and which is now engaged in advising people affected by agrarian reforms. Multilateral donors that have assisted Azerbaijan include the World Bank (examples: Water Users Association Development Support Project; Agricultural Development and Credit Project), FAO (example: Capacity Building in Rural Development for Internal Displaced Persons), IFAD (example: Integrated Rural Development Project), European Union, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Development projects have been funded by USA (examples: Participatory Agriculture Project Program, or PAPA; Farmer-to-Farmer Program, or F2F; Agri-Input Market Development in Azerbaijan, or AMDA), as well as Germany, Turkey and Japan.

The present situation of Azerbaijan’s extension advisory services, both public and private, is far from satisfactory. Although the government has lately taken certain initiatives to develop the agricultural sector, the priority of the government and of donors on investing in the oil sector has overshadowed the move. The country has been importing substantial food to meet consumers’ needs.

Extension Providers

Major institutions providing extension/advisory services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture and Food

The Central Board of Science, Education and Extension supervises the Scientific Council located within the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which is responsible for setting priorities, strategic policy formulation, coordination among research, education and extension, as well as international collaboration. Whatever extension and advisory support institutions in the Ministry and in the field are seen today in Azerbaijan, were established under various donor driven projects. Among them, the two phases of the Agricultural Development and Credit Project financed by the World Bank that made the most significant contributions.

Information Dissemination Unit
The Information Dissemination Unit (IDU) was established in 1998 to coordinate the flow of agricultural knowledge at the national level. It supports the collection of farming related data and disseminates information on improved technologies among farmers.

Information and Consulting Services Center
The Information and Consulting Services Center (ICSC) was created in 2000 under the World Bank-financed Agricultural Development and Credit Project, and is managed by the Agency for Support to the Development of the Private Agricultural Sector (ASDPAS). The objective of the ICSC is to coordinate information and extension services specified in the World Bank project.

Regional Offices of the Ministry
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has a number of regional offices that are supposed to work in collaboration with Agrarian Science Centers for the purpose of adapting and demonstrating technologies released by research institutes. Presently, the regional offices are weak in performing the extension and advisory functions.

Regional Advisory Centers
The Agricultural Development and Credit Project established as many as five Regional Advisory Centers (RACs), out of which two were based on a public sector model and funding for them was provided by the project. The RACs are responsible for the management of advisory programs in their respective regions including contracting private advisors, coordinating local training and demonstration sites, overseeing and evaluating private advisors’ performance, collection and distribution of local market price information, establishment of a farmer database and conducting local studies.  

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

Private Advisory Centers
As mentioned earlier, the Agricultural Development and Credit Project established five Regional Advisory Centers (RACs), out of which three were based on a private sector model using contracted NGOs. These RACs are responsible for the management of advisory programs in their respective regions including contracting private advisors, coordinating local training and demonstration sites, overseeing and evaluating private advisors’ performance, collection and distribution of local market price information, establishment of a farmer database and conducting local studies.  As the World Bank project has ended in 2012 after completing two phases, the sustainability of the RACs remains a question mark at this stage.

Village-based Private Advisors
In 2006, there were as many as 116 village-based Private Advisors (PAs) in Azerbaijan, who were contracted by the five Regional Advisory Centers (RACs), mentioned in the previous sub-section, for performing a variety of extension advisory tasks. The RACs and the PAs are supported by the national level Information and Advisory Center, which is located within the State Agency for Agricultural Credit, in Baku. The village-level PAs conduct training and information sessions for farmer groups, provide group advisory services at demonstration sites in their own fields or in the fields of other progressive farmers, and also deliver individual advisory services.

Farm Inputs Supply, Processing and Marketing Companies
There are many private international and local companies in Azerbaijan that provide extension advice to the farmers during the sale and promotion of their respective products. Technical soundness and objectivity of such advice, however, remain doubtful as the main objective of the companies is to expand their business and enhance profits. In 2002, the number of such companies was 20. A few examples are:

  • Seminis Vegetable Seeds
  • Milk-Pro Ltd. (MPro)
  • Alpha Exports, Inc.
  • Zehin-Akkums

Private Enterprises

Private enterprises, which have been created under donor-funded projects, are also active in the delivery of information and extension services. Two examples are:

  • Farm Progress Center for International Scientific and Technical Cooperation
  • Ganja Business Group

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Azerbaijan has a large number of national and international NGOs (see a list of NGOs) engaged in a variety of human welfare activities. There is government-established Azerbaijani NGO Support Council as well as the NGO-founded “National NGO Forum of Azerbaijan,” the latter enjoying membership of about 583 NGOs.

The World Bank-financed Agricultural Development and Credit Project contracted NGOs for establishing advisory centers, which then worked through private advisors. As a result, even small NGOs like Hayat got involved in extension advisory work. Two of these NGOs have emerged as prominent and are briefly described below.

Agro Information Center of Azerbaijan
The Agro Information Center of Azerbaijan, locally called as Agro Informasiya Merkezi (AIM) is a national NGO founded in 1999 by a German humanitarian organization Diakonie Emergency Aid. AIM’s headquarter is in Agjabedi Region, and it maintains two training centers in the regions of Barda and Agjabedi. It also has a liaison office in the capital city of Baku. Table 1 contains information on the human resources of AIM.

Table 1: Human Resources at the Agro Information Center of Azerbaijan as of 2009

Staff Categories

2-3 years Agriculture Diploma

B.Sc. Degree

M.Sc. Agriculture Degree

Ph.D. Degree

Gender

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

Senior Management Staff

       

1

   

1

Subject-matter Specialists

 

1

   

2

10

   

Field-level Extension Staff

24

98

   

33

176

   

Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff

   

1

1

 

2

   

In-service Training Staff

               

Total Extension Staff:    350

24

99

1

1

36

188

 

1

Source: http://www.worldwide-extension.org/asia/azerbaijan/aim

AIM’s mission is to improve rural livelihoods through supporting natural resources management (NRM) and implementing location-specific innovations. AIM has been collaborating in the development projects of several international and bilateral technical assistance organizations such as EED (Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), ICCO (Netherlands), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Heks-Eper (Switzerland), Action Contra la Feim (Spain) and some others.

Main activities of AIM include the provision of advanced training and support to graduate Agricultural Advisors, young farmers’ income generation, female gardeners’ empowerment, ecological and environmental protection, support to the establishment of Agricultural Service Centers throughout the country, issuing of a monthly magazine for farmers called “SERVET”, and provision of consultancy services both in Azerbaijan and in other Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

Since its start, AIM has been rendering demand-driven advisory services and information to the farming population and also has been coaching village-based Agricultural Advisors who provide extension advice to the farmers. It has established a vast network of mostly small-scale men and women farmers. By 2010, AIM had trained 331 Agricultural Advisors in 280 villages across 23 regions of the country.

Ganja Agribusiness Association
Ganja Agribusiness Association (GABA) is a local NGO, established in 1999. Its mission is to promote sustainable development of Azerbaijan’s agrarian sector through human potential development and serving as a knowledge and resource center. GABA has been supporting small enterprise development since its start through the provision of training, information and resource mobilization. The main targets include the rural population operating in the agrarian sector as well as processing enterprises located in urban areas. According to a 2010 report, GABA had 1,684 member clients seeking consulting and information services. At that time, GABA had a 40-person extension staff, and each of them worked with 30 individual farmers and 20 farmer groups.

GABA is the primary organization in Azerbaijan actively promoting organic agriculture. Since the year 2000, it has trained more than 2000 farmers in organic farming and 332 of them have applied for organic certification of their produce. This NGO also initiated a study on organic agriculture management at the Azerbaijan State Agrarian University. In addition, it established an organic certification body AZEKOSERT and a soil laboratory in 2006.  GABA is the first national NGO to pursue and get approved a quality management system by the Swiss certification body, SGS.

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

There do not seem to be many farmers-based associations and agricultural cooperatives in Azerbaijan. Presently, there is a World Bank-financed project on supporting the Water Users Associations that started in 2011 and ending  in 2016. The government has recently adopted a bill for the creation of agricultural cooperatives and cooperative unions with the expectation that this step would change Azerbaijan’s GDP structure and contribute to a new stage of agrarian reforms.

Some of the farmers-based associations, established by donor-funded projects, and some others presently active in Azerbaijan are as follows. However, the extent of their extension advisory assistance to their members is not known.

  • Azerbaijan Dairy Processors Association.
  • Livestock Farmers Associations (3).
  • Azerbaijan Hazelnut Farmers Association.
  • ACTIVTA (not  farmers-based, but relevant as it is the Association of Agricultural Input Dealers in Azerbaijan).
  • Agroinvestment Credit Union (founded in 2001 by a group of 32 Imishli farmers, and has since then grown into the largest credit union in Azerbaijan, wholly owned by its more than 3,500 borrowers with a portfolio of about US$ 5 million.).

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Azerbeijan. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

Training

 

Training options for extension professionals

There are not many institutions of higher learning in agriculture in Azerbaijan. For pre-service education in agricultural sciences, including agricultural extension, the only public institution available is the Azerbaijan State Agrarian University http://www.adau.edu.az (also called as Azerbaijan State Agricultural Academy), located in Baku City.

In-service training in various technical subjects for extension advisory professionals, depending on their specific needs, may be arranged through proper channels at any of the following research institutes; most of them are located in or around Baku:

Agrarian Science Center of Azerbaijan.

Research Institute of Crop Husbandry.

  • A. Radjabli Research Institute of Horticulture and Sub-tropical Crops.
  • Research Institute of Viticulture and Wine Making.
  • F. Melikova Livestock Research Institute.
  • Research Institute of Cotton Production.
  • Research Institute of Vegetables.
  • Institute of Agriculture.
  • R. Guseinov Research Institute of Sericulture.
  • Research Institute of Forages, Meadows and Pasture.
  • Research Institute of Plant Protection.
  • Research Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture.

In-service training may also be arranged by experienced and well established NGOs, like Agro Information Center of Azerbaijan and Ganja Agribusiness Association.

ICT

Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension

According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Azerbaijan was 108.74. During the same year, the number of internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 50.

The President of Azerbaijan has declared ICT as the second priority after oil. The Ministry of Communications and IT was established in 2004. A National Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2003-2012) have been developed. The government has implemented the following state programs:

  1. State program on development of communication and information technologies (ICT) of the Republic of Azerbaijan in accordance with modern requirements (2005-2008).
  2. State program on socio-economic development of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2004-2008).
  3. State program on provision of secondary and primary schools with the ICT (2005-2007).

A project, National E-Governance Network Initiative, is also being implemented. In addition, Azerbaijan has a joint EC/FAO Program on Information Systems to Improve Food Security Decision-Making. Under this, a countrywide Farm Data Monitoring System (FDMS) is being established.  All these initiatives and developments promise rapid development and application of ICT tools. So far, however, there is no evidence of ICT being applied to agricultural extension advisory services in any significant manner.

Resources

Resources and references

Aghayeva, A. 2000. Seeds of Change: Transition in Azerbaijan’s Agriculture. Azerbaijan International; Autumn 2000 (8.3) Pp. 28-31.

Crowley, E.L., I. Tercelli and N. O. Haddad.2011. Annual Report on FAO Activities in Support of Producers’ Organizations and Agricultural Cooperatives. FAO Inter Departmental Committee and Inter Departmental Working Group on Institution Building for Agriculture and Rural Development.

FAO.2012. Land Reform and Farm Performance in Europe: a 20-Year Perspective. European Commission on Agriculture; Thirty-seventh Session; Baku, Azerbaijan, 17 and 18 April 2012; Agenda Item 4.

FAO.2011. EC/FAO Program on Information Systems to Improve Food Security Decision-Making in the ENP East Area; On-the-Job Training in Farm Data Monitoring System; 5-23 June 2011.

Ganja Agribusiness Association, Azerbaijan.2009. Annual Report 2009.

Geybullayeva, A. 2013. More complications for NGOs in Azerbaijan ita eng.

Gulmammadov, R. (no date).  Azerbaijan’s ICT Sector: Dynamic and Growing. PowerPoint presentation; Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Guluzade, M. and N. Bourjaily 2012. Azerbaijani NGO Support Council: Overview of Three Years of Activity. The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, Volume 14, Issue 1-2, April 2012.

IFAD. 2010. Republic of Azerbaijan; Integrated Rural Development Project (IRDP); Project Design Report (Volume I: Main Report).

IFDC. 2004. Agri-Input Market Development in Azerbaijan (AMDA); Quarterly Report July – September 2004; submitted to USAID.

IFDC. 2002. Agri-Input Market Development in Azerbaijan (AMDA); Third Quarterly Report October – December 2002; submitted to USAID

Kessler, S. 2001. Analyzing a regional extension service in Azerbaijan. Beraterinnen News 2/2001.

Kudat, A. 1998. Working Paper on the Social Assessment for the Azerbaijan Agricultural Development and Credit Project. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

Lamers, J., G. Durr and P. Feil .2000. “Developing a client-oriented agricultural advisory system in Azerbaijan”, in M. Kalim Qamar (ed.) Human Resources in Agricultural and Rural Development, 2000, Pp. 105-117. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Lamers, J.P.A., P.R. Feil, N. Bayverdiyeva, Y. Guliyeva and F. Djafarov (no date; probably 2004). From Kolchoz Systems to Fee-Based Private Agricultural Extension: Achievements with a Client-Oriented Training and Advisory Concept as Support for Private Farming in Azerbaijan. University of Bonn, Germany.

Laue, R. 2006. Establishing a client-financed agricultural advisory service—a successful experience from Azerbaijan. Rural Development News, 1/2006.

Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Republic of Azerbaijan. 2012. Report on Barrier Analysis and Enabling Framework for Adaptation Technologies.

Neubert, D.  2003. Evaluation of the Participatory Agriculture Project (PAPA) Program in Azerbaijan; Prepared for USAID/Azerbaijan Regional Mission for the Caucasus. Washington, D.C.: Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc./The Louis Berger Group, Inc. Joint Venture.

Republic of Azerbaijan (no date). National Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Rzayev, Z. (no date). Improving agricultural productivity in Azerbaijan. Baku: World Bank Office; available at http://go.worldbank.org/NQ5EYO2LA0.

Shikhaliyev, K., O. Ismayilzada and S. Khalilov (no date; probably 2010). Agricultural Sector of Azerbaijan – Overview and Analysis. International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET).

Temel, T., W. Janssen and F. Karimov.2002. The Agricultural Innovation System of Azerbaijan: An Assessment of Institutional Linkages. ISNAR Country Report 64. International Service for National Agricultural Research.

World Bank (November 2007). Integrating Environment into Agriculture and Forestry: Progress and Prospects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Volume II. Azerbaijan Country Review.

World Bank. 2006. Project Appraisal Document; Republic of Azerbaijan. Second Agricultural Development and Credit Project in Support of the Second Phase Agricultural Development and Credit Program.

Yusifov, Y. (no date). Statistics of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Azerbaijan: Real Situation and Development Perspectives (Thesis). Sector Transport and Communication Statistics, State Statistical Committee of Azerbaijan Republic

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Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (June 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson