The harvest this year in Azerbaijan turned out to be rich, but farmers faced a problem - there is no demand. Tons of tomatoes in Shamkir are thrown into landfills due to the lack of buyers. Farmers from Tovuz have a similar situation: this year precipitation exceeded the norm, which had a beneficial effect on the irrigation of potato fields, and, as a result, led to a bountiful harvest. However, no one is in a hurry to buy potatoes so far, and farmers are afraid that they will not be able to recoup the costs.
Monopoly and market oversaturation
The problem of farmers who cannot sell their products is related to the fact that a monopoly operates in the markets of Azerbaijan, which controls the production and sale of agricultural goods, said Vahid Maharramov, head of the Public Union for Support of Agrarian Reforms in Azerbaijan.
“Monopolists have started building large greenhouses across the country, and this has killed the sale of food to farmers,” he told Sputnik Azerbaijan.
In addition, according to the expert, the export of products to Russia - the main sales market for Azerbaijani agricultural products - has also significantly decreased. The neighbors themselves began to grow agricultural products in greenhouses, in particular tomatoes, most of which were previously imported from Azerbaijan.
Another problem of the agricultural sector of Azerbaijan is the oversaturation of the market with one or another product.
“Azerbaijan has recently started to produce products in a market economy. In Soviet times, an order for one or another product came from the central government, and Azerbaijan produced products according to the order, and thus there was no oversaturation of the market. Today, in a market economy, farmers have a hard time - due to the lack of proper control, the market is overflowing with one type of product, the surplus of which ends up in a garbage dump, ”the expert said.
In his opinion, in order to solve this problem, it is necessary either to look for new sales markets, or to agree with farmers that they start growing a different product in order to avoid oversaturation problems.
“Azerbaijan imports agricultural products worth $ 1,6 billion a year. At the same time, we export agricultural products worth $ 800 million. For example, in the first four months we imported 65 thousand tons of potatoes, while the potatoes produced in the country do not find their buyer. Why doesn't Azerbaijan produce the goods that the country imports? Other vegetables and fruits could be grown in greenhouses. To do this, we need to work with farmers and entrepreneurs, ”Magerramov said.
According to the expert, an important problem in the agricultural sector of the country is also the lack of an outbid system in Azerbaijan.
“In the past, buyers ordered to farmers how much they wanted a particular product. Then, once the crop was harvested, they purchased and resold the produce. These buyers are an important link in the entry of agricultural products to domestic markets. Buyers have stopped buying products from farmers because they know that if they buy, say, Tovuz potatoes for the Baku market, the monopolists will lower prices and, as a result, the buyer will not be able to sell the goods, ”Maharramov said.
To solve this kind of problems, according to the expert, large wholesale markets need to be created in large cities of the country - for healthy competition.
There are reforms
The problems of Azerbaijani farmers are not being resolved, although the country has been carrying out agrarian reforms in recent years. The indicators indicate an improvement in the agricultural sector - in the period from January to May 2021, the country produced 2,9% more agricultural products than in the same period last year. So, for the specified period, products were produced for 2,2 billion manat. At the same time, in the first five months of this year, the value of agricultural products produced increased by 5,2%.
For the development of agriculture, the state is implementing a reform program, allocating subsidies and loans to farmers. Breeding of local seeds is encouraged in the country - about 30-40% of the cost of productive seeds produced in research institutes is paid by the state. A support program for farmers has been prepared, allowing them to buy fuel with a significant discount, fertilizers - with a 50% discount. This material aid significantly reduces the dependence of agricultural products on imports.
In addition, at the beginning of the year, the State Service for Antimonopoly Control and Supervision of the Consumer Market under the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan announced that the volume of subsidies in the field of agriculture would be increased. Considering the possibility of the impact of rising prices for AI-92 gasoline and diesel fuel on the cost of agricultural products, the government plans to strengthen support for farmers.
At the stand of OJSC "Agroservice" at the 14th Azerbaijan International Exhibition "Agriculture" Caspian Agro 2021 and the 26th Azerbaijan International Exhibition "Food Industry" InterFood Azerbaijan 2021, the latest technologies and trends in the agricultural industry were presented. Agrodrones produced in the country have become one of Azerbaijan's innovative projects in agriculture.
“Agrodrons are a trend of innovative technology that has not been previously used in the country. We offer farmers to fertilize their territories not with traditional machines, but with new equipment in the form of drones, ”said Aytekin Mamedova, head of the public relations department of OJSC“ Agroservice ”.
These drones allow you to grow environmentally friendly products, as they fertilize the soil of exactly the area that needs fertilization. Likewise, with pesticide spraying - drones identify areas where there are diseases or pests, and spray pesticides on this particular area.
In addition, a new innovative service is presented at the exhibition - agroUber. This is a mobile application that is a communicator between a farmer and a machine operator.
“This is the first such application used in our country. AgroUber was created on the basis of Uber taxi, only for ordering agricultural services. Thus, farmers can choose machine operators without the intermediation of third parties, ”Mammadova said to Sputnik Azerbaijan.
But today it is obvious that Azerbaijani farmers need not so much innovation as the organization of wholesale markets, the construction of large canning and processing plants in the country, which would be interested in the supply of local products, and solutions in the field of logistics. But when it all really works, then you can use a drone to fight pests and use a mobile application to contact the machine operator.