By Leman Mammadova
Pomegranate, one of Azerbaijan's national symbols, is the product that plays important role in the country's agriculture.
A meeting dedicated to the establishment of a cooperative on pomegranate cultivation was held in Goychay region, according to Azerbaijan Pomegranate Producers and Exporters Association.
The meeting was attended by Executive Director of the Association Yusif Akhundov, experts of the EU “Regional Development Support” Project Dario Caccamisi and Elchin Atababayev, Director of Goychay State Agrarian Development Center Elchin Ismayilov, representative of the Economy Ministry Akif Abbasov and Deputy Head of Socio-Economic department of the Goychay Executive Power Mahir Malikov.
During the meeting, the participants discussed the forms of cooperation and the mechanism of the cooperative’s activities. As a result, it was agreed initially to conduct training courses in the village of Bygyr of Goychay region and to attract 20 small farms to the project.
The main goal of the cooperative is to create favorable conditions for the effective cultivation of pomegranates, to reduce the production costs and to increase productivity and sales.
Azerbaijan's pomegranate has received worldwide recognition as one of the best for taste and quality. Azerbaijan is considered the only country where all varieties of pomegranate grow. About 70 varieties of pomegranate were spread in Azerbaijan, while about 20 varieties are grown in the country today.
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.
Last year, 180,000 tons of pomegranates were produced in Azerbaijan. Products worth $13 million were exported. During the first three months of 2019, the pomegranate has been exported in small quantities. Main export destinations were Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. At the same time, the negotiations are underway on export to Latvia, Poland and France.
This year Azerbaijan plans to begin construction of a large complex for the production of pomegranate products. The complex may 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 ($15 million). Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2021.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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