By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Azerbaijan, being one of the world centers of primary origin of pomegranate, exports pomegranates to several European countries.
The production of pomegranates in Azerbaijan will increase by seven to ten percent in 2019, the head of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Pomegranate, Farhad Garashov, told Trend.
In 2017, 156,000 tons of pomegranates were produced in Azerbaijan, and in 2018 - 170,000 tons.
As the head of the Association said, 15 enterprises engaged in the production of products from pomegranates, during 2018, processed 60,000-70,000 tons of pomegranates.
Touching upon the issue of export, the head of the Association noted that this year growth is expected to reach 12,000-15,000 tons of products delivered to foreign markets. For comparison, the indicator of exports in 2018 compared with 2017 increased by 22 percent to 10,000 tons.
Speaking about plans for the future, Garashov noted that according to a decree of President Ilham Aliyev, the Ministry of Agriculture prepared a number of state programs in the field of rural infrastructure and social sector development, which are expected to be implemented in the next five years.
In this regard, Garashov expressed the hope of increasing government subsidies, which will accelerate the growth of agricultural development. In particular, the territory of pomegranate gardens in Azerbaijan is expected to expand to 28,000 hectares, which is 21.7 percent more than the current figure.
It was also noted that the association regularly conducts trainings and workshops with farmers and producers.
Garashov also noted the support of the Export and Investment Promotion Foundation in Azerbaijan (AZPROMO) in supporting the promotion of domestic pomegranate products within the Made in Azerbaijan brand throughout the world. The association regularly demonstrates Azerbaijani pomegranates in the local and international markets.
In this regard, intensive work is underway, namely, meetings of local farmers with foreign partners are being held. As an example, the head of the association spoke about the visits of representatives of leading Russian companies that met with Azerbaijani farmers. As part of these meetings, protocols of intent for further cooperation were signed.
Pomegranate is a national fruit that plays a big role in the development of non-oil sector in Azerbaijan, both agriculture and tourism.
Azerbaijan is considered the only country where all varieties of pomegranate grow. The varieties Gulovsha, Vesel, Shandi, Shirin and Bala Mursal are mainly cultivated in local gardens. For the further development of pomegranate production, measures to cultivate new varieties and create new gardens are being taken.
Goychay region is distinguished for the pomegranate cultivation in Azerbaijan. Since 2006, traditional festivals of pomegranates have been held in Goychay region every year. It serves to promote the Azerbaijani pomegranate that has become a cultural and tourism symbol of the country.
Pomegranate is not only economically profitable, but also of great importance for human health. Pomegranate juice and peel are used in the treatment of up to 20 diseases. Pomegranate rind, as well as oil from its seeds are used in cosmetology, pharmaceutical production.
This year Azerbaijan plans to begin construction of a large complex for the production of pomegranate products. The complex can be built in one of the industrial parks of Azerbaijan. It is planned that the complex will consist of four enterprises for the production of pomegranate juice, concentrate, processing of pomegranate peels and seeds. The total cost of the complex, according to the business plan is 25 million manats. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2021.
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