Azerbaijan’s Agrarco LLC and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have signed an agreement on cooperation and coordination of activities.
In accordance with the agreement, the parties will work on the production and processing of hazelnuts, the application of best practices in this sphere and the organization of events to increase the farmers’ potential.
The sides will explore the potential of using renewable energy sources and logistics. In addition, they will assist other farmers in the development of advanced technologies.
The document was signed by Agrarco LLC director Javid Kazimov and FAO representative in Azerbaijan Melek Cakmak within the framework of the project “Catalyzing the efficiency and sustainability of Azerbaijan’s hazelnut sector” (HAZER).
Opening of plant for hazelnuts’ production, processing
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Javid Kazimov stated that Agrarco LLC plans to open a plant, with a production capacity of 20 tons per year, for the production and processing of hazelnuts. The plant will be put into operation in the summer of 2022.
He noted that it is also planned to install crushing equipment that is capable of cleaning 7 tons of hazelnuts a year.
“This plant is being built in accordance with international and modern standards and using high technologies,” he said.
Noting that the company grows hazelnuts on an area of 500 hectares and fruits on 370 hectares, he mentioned that there are warehouses where you can store about 5,000 tons of agricultural products.
Azerbaijan among top hazelnut exporters
The Agriculture Ministry’s representative, Surkhay Novruzov, stated that Azerbaijan ranks among the top three countries for the volume of hazelnut exports worldwide.
Noting that this year Azerbaijan harvested 67,000 tons of hazelnuts, he stated that about 95-96 percent of hazelnuts are exported to European markets.
“The Azerbaijani government encourages entrepreneurs involved in the production of hazelnuts. They are annually allocated lump-sum funds in the amount of AZN 4,400 ($2,590), and will continue to be encouraged within the state programs,” he said.
Novruzov added that work is underway to expand the production of hazelnuts, as well as in the field of combating various pests and plant diseases adversely affecting the cultivation of hazelnuts, within the framework of international cooperation.
Export increase in 2022
Javid Kazimov also stated that the company is planning to increase the export of peeled hazelnuts by 10-15 percent, or by almost 6,000 tons in 2022.
Noting that last season the company exported about 5,000 tons of peeled hazelnuts, he noted that the main importer is the Italian company Ferrero International S.A.
“The company purchased over 3,000 tons of hazelnuts in 2021. Germany, Austria, and France also import our products,” he said.
He added that Agrarco LLC mainly exports its products by sea and by road.
“We have encountered a number of problems in the supply chain due to the coronavirus disease. Therefore, we predict that this year the prices for our exported products will approximately double,” he said.
Hazelnut industry among priority areas
Agrarian Credit and Development Agency board chairman Seymur Movlayev underlined that hazelnut growing is one of the priority areas for the development of the agricultural sector in Azerbaijan.
He stressed that in order to ensure the sustainable development of this sector, large-scale activities are being carried out in Azerbaijan to develop cooperation with a number of state and international structures.
“In order to revive this sector, we are working with Azerbaijan’s Food Safety Agency, the Ministry of Agriculture, also a number of international structures,” he said.
Cooperation with FAO
In turn, Melek Cakmak noted that FAO is cooperating with the Azerbaijani government on a number of projects in the sphere of agriculture, which includes such areas as cattle breeding, crop production and consulting services.
She added that there is a high demand in Azerbaijan for consulting services related to hazelnut cultivation and export.
“FAO has been implementing a project to accelerate the production of hazelnuts in Azerbaijan since 2020,” she said.
Noting that FAO also cooperates with the Azerbaijani private sector, Cakmak added that the organization prepared a program that will help expand partnerships with the private sector.
Azerbaijan has been a member of the FAO since 1995. The organization’s office in the country has been operating since 2007.