Azerbaijan increases grain fund's reserves to ensure food security

By Aynur Karimova

Recently, the Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers decided to increase the volume of its grain reserves in the State Grain Fund from 500,000 metric tons to 750,000 metric tons.

The decision was made as part of efforts to prevent direct or indirect impacts on the population’s grain supply, which could be in trouble by a long-lasting drought in the country and/or climate changes in neighboring countries that are producing grain,” the cabinet ministers’ message said.

Vugar Bayramov, Chairman of the Center for Economic and Social Development, believes that the main goal is to ensure the population’s food security, and to eliminate the existing and potential problems in ensuring domestic needs for grain and bread.

“Given the fact that Azerbaijan’s population consumes more bread, products like grain and bread became strategic items for Azerbaijani government. Although Azerbaijan produced 2.4 million tons of grain in 2014, the quality of major part of the grain was not appropriate for baking industry,” the expert told AzerNews on January 8.

He noted only a few parts of the grain are appropriate for using in baking industry, so, Azerbaijan has no other way than to purchase grain from neighboring countries, in particular from Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran.

“Although Azerbaijan has increased its grain production, the country practically depends on import in ensuring its domestic demand. Thus, such a step taken by the Azerbaijani government is enough positive for ensuring the food security in the country,” he stressed.

Bayramov also added that increasing the grain reserves will allow Azerbaijan to ensure the population’s demands for grain if there is any problem in grain import. Russia has adopted a decision on tightening its grain export. It is expected that Kazakhstan will also take such a similar decision in near future.

“In 2015, problems in finding new grain sources will not be removed. The Azerbaijani government’s decision to increase the grain reserves is aimed at ensuring the population’s demands with national reserves. This step serves to form an insurance bag of the population. It will, in turn, meet the population’s demand for such a strategic product in case of changes in the grain market and restrictions applied by neighboring countries,” he said.

Azerbaijan produced 2,379,400 metric tons of grain in January-November 2014. An average of 24 quintals of grain was harvested from one hectare of the planted areas.

Bayramov said in 2015, Azerbaijan will increase its grain production. The country is expected to produce 2.5 million tons of grain in 2015.

“However, meeting the domestic demands for grain with local production is not practically possible yet. So, the Agriculture Ministry has set a goal to increase the grain production to 3 million tons. Azerbaijan will reach this goal in 2017. Although Azerbaijan is set to increase the grain production to 3 million tons, the country will continue to import grain to meet major parts of its domestic demand for grain,” he concluded.

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Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova

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