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Reviving Azerbaijan's agriculture through promoting economic diversity

18 April 2024 08:30 (UTC+04:00)
Reviving Azerbaijan's agriculture through promoting economic diversity
Qabil Ashirov
Qabil Ashirov
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Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of Azerbaijan. It is worth noting that over 40 percent of the population lives in rural areas and agricultural products rank in third place in the exports of the country after oil and gas. So, the government attaches importance to the sector, and does its best to boost it.

The government implemented several projects in this regard, which ensured the rapid development of Azerbaijan and improved the well-being of citizens. Construction infrastructures, such as sewage systems and highways in rural areas, renewing electricity systems, constructing drinking water canals, the construction of irrigation canals and reservoirs, such as Takhtakorpu-Jeyranbatan irrigation canal, Takhtakorpu reservoir, Shamkirchay reservoir, building agro-parks, subsidizing plowed lands, beehives, artificial insemination, and so on can be exemplified.

Due to the implemented projects, the volume of arable lands in the North and West of Azerbaijan enhanced. Taking into account that agriculture is a strategic sector in the economy because it provides people with food, all these works affected not only residents in the rural areas but the whole country.

It is worth noting that the government is not limited to the implemented projects, but works on new projects and continues to widen the scope to facilitate the daily lives of people living in rural areas.

Laying the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Shirvan irrigation canal in the Hajigabul district by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is one of them.

To recall, the Upper Shirvan Irrigation Canal, the second largest canal in the country, was inaugurated in 1958. Mingachevir reservoir feeds the canal and it covers over 112,00 hectares of agricultural land. Besides, the canal serves as a water source for residential areas in several regions in eight districts located in the Shirvan Plain. However, the canal has experienced significant water losses and structural deterioration for over 65 years of operation. Taking into account the present condition of the canal, President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree on April 8 to reconstruct the canal and renamed it the Shirvan Irrigation Canal. Following the modernization of the canal, water resource management will be optimized, the water supply will increase, and over 230,000 hectares of land could be irrigated. The canal will not only enable the irrigation of new farmlands and to facilitate the lives of local people but also have an environmental effect by recovering the Hajigabul Lake. As President Ilham Aliyev said:

“Whereas earlier this canal covered eight districts, now it will cover 10, and the last point of the canal will be Hajigabul Lake right behind me. The Hajigabul Lake has been completely dry for more than 10 years now. After the canal has been put into operation, the lake will also be filled, which will have a very positive effect on nature.”

It should be noted that the Shirvan canal project is the largest in terms of water volume and coverage of farmland. Thus, the residents of 10 districts will benefit from the canal which is 14 percent of Azerbaijan. As the President said: “by implementing this project, we are breathing a new life into this sector.”

Besides, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev heralded new projects in agriculture. He noted that an order had been signed on the construction of the Garabagh Canal, which was previously called the Upper Garabagh Canal. He pointed out that a feasibility study would be prepared and a new project would be developed as a result of this work.

“We should start the construction of the Garabagh Canal next year. This is a canal that will cover 115,000 hectares. The number of districts it will cover is equal to nine. In other words, 10 districts will be irrigated here through the Shirvan canal and nine more will be irrigated through the Garabagh canal,” President Ilham Aliyev emphasized.

Besides, President Ilham Aliyev pointed out that over 10 reservoirs will be built. He noted that over 500,000 hectares of land will be irrigated in just a few years.

President Ilham Aliyev also touched upon climate change in the world and noted that like other countries Azerbaijan also suffers from climate change. He reminded that in previous years Azerbaijan faced drought. He also spoke about the decreasing levels of rivers, drying up Kura and the Caspian Sea.

“Under such circumstances, it is our main task to use water resources efficiently,” President Ilham Aliyev said.

After the implementation of the above-said projects water losses in canals will reduce. For example, just in the Shirvan canal, water losses amounted to 30 percent and after the construction of the concrete canal, the losses will account for a maximum of five percent.

President Ilham Aliyev also spoke about the projects in Garabagh. He pointed out that following the Patriotic War and anti-terror operation, Azerbaijan has full possession of its water resources. He reminded that the water resources available in Garabagh and Eastern Zangezur constitute 25 percent of the country and emphasized the importance of water resources in the liberated territories.

The main feature of these water resources, their positive side, is that they are generated thanks to internal sources. Because, as you know, our main rivers originate abroad – the Kura River, the Araz River, and the Samur River. Our main rivers come from abroad, so this is of particular importance because the water resources of Garabagh and Eastern Zangazur are internal sources,” President Ilham Aliyev said.

He said that the Kondalanchay reservoir in Fuzuli district will also be opened in the near future; the construction of the Zabukhchay reservoir is currently underway. The Sugovushan reservoir has almost been rebuilt, and one of the two canals coming out of that reservoir has already been completely repaired. The President also heralded that other major irrigation projects are planned in Garabagh and Eastern Zangezur. The construction of the Hakarichay and Bargushadchay reservoirs and canals is also on the agenda.

“There will be many other projects, but they are smaller scope-wise. But every project is important, and Azerbaijan, which has limited water resources, will be fully self-sufficient in this field as well,” President Ilham Aliyev noted.

The most important project, that the President spoke, about is the desalination of the Caspian Sea water. It is a totally new project not only in Azerbaijan, but whole the region. President noted that after the implementation of this project, we will use the water of the Caspian Sea for both irrigation and drinking.

Of course, all these projects are having and will have good results. Thanks to the said projects, new areas, which were used neither during the Soviet nor Independence period, are plowed. For example, 4,000 hectares of grain were cultivated in the Hajigabul agricultural park. Besides, the productivity increased from three tons per hectare to seven tons.

As we told above, agriculture is a strategic sector in the economy because it provides people with food. All countries in the world strive to be self-sufficient in terms of food. Azerbaijan has done great works in this regard. Today Azerbaijan is an exporter of many agricultural products. With the implementation of new projects and full usage of the liberated territories, self-sufficiency will increase further.

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Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @g_Ashirov

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