By Rashid Shirinov
Azerbaijan is a country enjoying favorable climatic conditions for growing many fruits and vegetables, including tomato. This vegetable is cultivated in the country in such a large amount that it was the main export product of Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector last year.
Russian media have recently reported citing the Federal Customs Committee that Azerbaijan was a leader in tomato export to Russia in 2017. Azerbaijan increased its volume of export to the country by 50 percent to 151,000 tons ($151 million).
Thus, Azerbaijan’s share in Russian tomato import rose from 22 percent in 2016 to 30 percent last year. Russia accounted for 99.8 percent of Azerbaijan’s total tomato export in 2017.
Interest of foreign countries in Azerbaijani tomatoes began to increase since 2004, and this undoubtedly affected the activities of farms, which began to expand the areas of tomato growing gardens. The peak year for tomato production was 2008, when the production areas reached 27.212 hectares throughout the country.
Last year, the export of tomato brought $151.6 million to Azerbaijan, and the country intends to increase the revenues even more by the end of this year. Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev has recently told reporters that over 400 hectares of greenhouses are currently built in the country.
Recently, President IIham Aliyev, opened a new greenhouse in Baku Agropark, located in Zira settlement, which covers 11 hectares areas for cultivation of tomatoes. The first phase of this tomato greenhouse project in Azerbaijan was started by Dutch greenhouse construction company, Debets Schalke on December 2016. Last July, this project was completed and the cultivation started.
Although Azerbaijani farmers sell their tomatoes mainly to Russia, there is a plan to expand the export market to the Baltic states, countries of the West and the Middle East. To this end, Azerbaijan has already started supplying tomatoes to Latvia.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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