By Leman Mammadova
Being one of the most profitable field in the agrarian sector, tobacco production with its high export potential is in the spotlight in Azerbaijan.
Tobacco growing has began to revive in recent years and a number of measures are being taken for its development.
The reconstruction of a tobacco processing plant located in Shaki is expected to be completed in May this year, the Azerbaijan Industrial Company (AIC) told Trend.
The company noted that work on the reconstruction of the enterprise in the village of Chalabikhan, Shaki region, is carried out in accordance with the requirements and tasks specified in the framework of the State Program for the Development of Tobacco Growing in Azerbaijan for 2017–2021.
According to the plant reconstruction project, 30 new fire extinguishing tanks with a capacity of 150 cubic meters, as well as 30 cubic meters of storage tanks for household water are being built on the allocated 0.9 hectares of land.
“It is also planned to create a modern heating system, storage, and construction of a sewage tank. At the moment, most of the work on the underground and above-ground communication lines, installation of a monolithic reinforced concrete basin with drying chambers has been completed on the site,” said AIC.
State Program for the Development of Tobacco Growing in Azerbaijan for 2017-2021, adopted in 2017, is aimed at the development of tobacco growing, deepening the sphere of tobacco processing, increasing profitability and export potential as well as increasing employment of the rural population.
The state program takes into account all the necessary factors for the development of this industry - control over the quality of seeds, phytosanitary, etc.
There are favorable climatic conditions, rich traditions and potential for tobacco development in Azerbaijan. Presently, the biggest volumes of tobacco production are concentrated in Balakan, Shaki, Ismayilli, Gabala, Lerik and Masalli regions.
Tobacco cultivation has been developing rapidly in Azerbaijan recently. According to the official statistics, 3,400 hectares were sown in the country in 2018 and more than 38,000 tons of tobacco were bought from farmers. Thus, 2,350 hectares were sown and 20.7 tons of tobacco was obtained with the support and direct organization of the agro-industrial complex.
In 2018, a tobacco curing station consisting of 60 chambers, meeting modern requirements and standards, was put into operation in Azerbaijan’s Balakan region.
Presently, Azertutun LLC agro-industrial complex has 236 tobacco curing chambers, warehouses and offices in Balakan, Zagatala, Gakh and Sheki regions, as well as four facilities for the production of dry tobacco with the necessary infrastructure and a tobacco processing plant in Zagatala region.
Thirty modern tobacco curing chambers are planned to be installed in Gakh and Sheki regions to increase the production of tobacco products. Moreover, an additional production line is planned to be installed at Azertutun to increase the range of tobacco products.
The government expects production to be worth $45 million in 2019 and to increase by 20 percent annually until 2022. According to the budget package for 2019, Azerbaijan is expected to produce 8,200 tons of tobacco this year, 9,500 tons in 2020, 12,000 tons in 2021 and 12,600 tons in 2022.
Last year, Azerbaijan exported tobacco worth $10 million, while imports amounted to $116 million. Currently, the country eyes to minimize the import of tobacco products. To this end, the manufacturer of tobacco products Tabaterra CJSC has built a plant for tobacco production in the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park. The total cost of the project is $48 million. Tabaterra intends to cover 80 percent of the demand for tobacco products in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan Industrial Company was established in November 2017 to increase the efficiency of state property management, to create favorable cooperation ties between enterprises that are under management, and to increase production potential.
Currently, AIC has 17 subsidiaries, covering various areas of the non-oil sector. The authorized capital of the company is 500 million manat ($293 million).
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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