By Gulgiz Dadashova
A new concept on agriculture development will be drafted in Azerbaijan. The concept will reflect the specialization of the country's regions depending on climatic and environmental conditions, opportunities for the development of agriculture, etc.
Agriculture Minister Ismet Abbasov made a relevant announcement at an event in connection with the completion of the twinning project on support of the state veterinary service of Azerbaijan in the preparation of the national system of identification of animals and registration of farms.
Abbasov said the decision on developing such a concept was made following the conference on the results of the fourth year of implementing the state program on socio-economic development of Azerbaijani regions in 2009-2013.
The event was addressed by President Ilham Aliyev.
"At the conference, the president noted a number of shortcomings, especially in the issuance of subsidies to the producers of agricultural products," the minister said. "Later, the ministry held a board meeting and established a working group, which is now engaged in gathering opinions and suggestions from regional executive authorities with a view to prepare a new concept of agricultural development in the country. Some data has already been received. After collection, we will discuss it and then submit for discussion at the board."
Abbasov added that the following step will be alignment with relevant structures and submission to the head of state.
According to Abbasov, the working group also appealed to all the heads of regional executive authorities with a request to tighten control to ensure transparency of documents they submit to the relevant state commission for the issue of subsidies.
"In accordance with the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers, local commissions collect information on crop areas and submit it to regional executive authorities, which later approve the data and send it to the state commission. Then, the state commission checks these documents within 10 days for their later submission to the Finance Ministry, which through the agent bank (KapitalBank) provides funding grants. This process has certain shortcomings and misuse of subsidies has been recorded. However, today the issue is taken under strict control," said Abbasov.
The government is considering various options for simplification of subsidies, with the main purpose being effective use of the granted funds, according to the minister.
Furthermore, Abbasov said, the ministry with the support of European Union experts developed a concept of the national system of identification of animals and registration of farms.
"The lack of such a system obstructs the struggle against animal illnesses and impedes bringing thoroughbred horses to European markets," he said.
According to the minister, as many as 53 veterinary surgeons from 12 regions of Azerbaijan have participated in a training for the preparation of the system. Also, as part of the project, which has been implemented since 2011 with the financial support of the EU, working groups of veterinary service experts visited EU member states.
"Most of the recommendations prepared by the experts after all this training and seminars have been included into the concept of identification of animals and registration of farms. The concept has been prepared with the participation of experts from Spain and Poland, and reflects all the necessary recommendations and proposals compatible with EU legislation," Abbasov said.
According to him, adoption of this system will require modification of the current system, including amendments to the laws on veterinary medicine and on horse breeding, as well as changes in the structure of the state veterinary system. It will require new registration of livestock farms and introduction of a new system of identification of animals according to their breeds and start-up of the system in both conventional and electronic forms.
"Implementation of these measures requires a new administration system. It will improve food security of the country and its position in the international market of products of animal origin," Abbasov said.
In turn, head of the EU delegation in Azerbaijan Roland Kobia and the vice ambassador of Poland in Azerbaijan Andrzej Kneifel said the sides are satisfied with the implementation of the project and are ready to continue cooperation with the government of Azerbaijan in the field of agriculture.
The mentioned twinning project was aimed at strengthening the veterinary service in general through particular assistance to prepare for a system of the identification and traceability of animals, to increase food safety for consumers and to facilitate trade through reforms and modernization of the sanitary and phyto-sanitary sectors. It comes as a significant contribution to an objective of the EU-Azerbaijan ENP Action Plan concerning trade-related issues, market and regulatory reform - free movement of goods.