By Kamila Aliyeva
Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector has entered a new stage of development thanks to the care and attention President Ilham Aliyev pays to the development of the non-oil sector, said Heydar Asadov, the Agriculture Minister.
The minister made the remark while addressing the first Turkey-Africa Business Forum in Antalya, Turkey on February 28. Asadov was invited as an honorary guest by Turkey’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Faruk Celik.
Asadov went on to say that thanks to the successful reforms carried out in the agro sector Azerbaijan has managed to completely ensure domestic demand in some strategic goods through local production, decrease its dependence on the foreign countries in the food security and develop its regions through increasing the volume of production of export-oriented goods.
The issuance of various state subsidies for farmers, who are engaged in agriculture, led to the significant improvements in this sector, according to Asadov.
The minister further said that Azerbaijan has close diplomatic relations with a number of African countries, while with 26 countries of African Union it cooperates within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The minister stressed that it is important to establish international bilateral and multilateral cooperation at the highest level for the development of agriculture and ensuring food security.
Asadov underlined that Azerbaijan in 2016 imported agricultural products worth $8.6 million from African countries, while exports to Africa amounted to $251,000. In general, Azerbaijan has established export-import relations on agricultural products with such African countries as South Africa, Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, and others.
Recalling a favorable investment climate, good potential in the agrarian sector of Azerbaijan, national legislation protecting investors’ rights as well as stability prevailing in the country, the minister called on entrepreneurs to invest in the agricultural sector.
In the first quarter of 2017, the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan’s economy grew by 2.4 percent. The trade turnover increased by 15 percent, exports saw a nearly 50 percent growth and imports fell by 17 percent. The exports of agricultural products increased by 44 percent.
Development of the non-oil sector is a priority area in Azerbaijan. The government efforts to stimulate non-oil exports, in particular through its ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ promotion, are expected to catalyze growth in agriculture.
The country currently ranks the 57th among 113 countries of the world according to the Global Food Security Index 2016, while the highest scores are recorded on such indicators as the presence of food safety net programs, low level of food loss, food safety, access to financing for farmers.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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