Agriculture looks promising in Azerbaijan's progress on economic diversification [COMMENTARY]
By Sara Ganjiyeva, AZERNEWS
Apart from being a traditional sector, investing in agriculture looks beneficial and it is considered the most important field of business in the diversification of Azerbaijan's economy. Azerbaijan has been famous for its agricultural products throughout history.
During the USSR, the country was dubbed the garden (orchard) of the Soviets. When the USSR collapsed, the sector recovered itself more quickly than others and the export of agricultural products stepped out from other items. Today Azerbaijan ranks first in the exports of different fruits and vegetables, such as hazelnuts, persimmons, tomatoes, and so on, in the world. Besides, as over forty percent of the population lives in rural areas in Azerbaijan agriculture plays a paramount role in absorbing unemployment.
However, there are some shortcomings as well. Take up export markets, for example - over 90 percent of Azerbaijani agricultural products are sent to Russia and other CIS countries because the distance is not so big and they are traditional markets for Azerbaijan. On the other hand, depending on a single market makes Azerbaijan fragile at a number of risks. So, the government intends to diversify the export geography. Gulf countries are considered lucrative markets for Azerbaijan, and the country has been working to export agricultural products to these countries for long. Meanwhile, there are other countries where Azerbaijan not can only export its products but also cooperate with them. One of them is Pakistan, for instance.
Most experts consider agriculture is the backbone of the country and this sector accounts for about 18.9 percent of the country. Besides, the country is in the top ten in producing and exporting some products such as wheat, rice, chickpeas, mango, and so on. Thus, Azerbaijan can import some products which it needs and can export other products as well. Besides, the two countries can share the know-how they have obtained throughout the years.
Speaking to Azernews on the issue Global Business Alliance CEO Muhammad Asif Noor noted that currently, there is no great cooperation between Azerbaijan and Pakistan in the field of agriculture, but it is a promising sector and there is a good opportunity for cooperation.
“Pakistan annually imports agricultural products worth $7 bn, some of which, such as grapes and apples, can be imported from Azerbaijan. This suggests the potential for increased agricultural trade between the two countries. Pakistani businessmen and investors have also been encouraged to make investments in Azerbaijan, indicating a broader scope for agricultural investment and collaboration,” he said.
Asif Noor also pointed out that cooperation in livestock farming, dairy production, and animal farming can be explored. This can involve the exchange of knowledge, transferring technology, and building capacity in the livestock and dairy sectors. Besides, both countries can work together in the exchange of agricultural technologies, including precision agriculture, irrigation techniques, and sustainable farming practices. This could involve partnerships in adopting and adapting innovative agricultural technologies to improve productivity and sustainability.
“Both countries can collaborate in agricultural research and development to improve crop yields, develop new agricultural technologies, and enhance farming practices. Collaboration in agricultural education, training programs, and skill development for farmers and agricultural professionals can contribute to the overall development of the agricultural sector in both countries,” he added.
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