FAO and MoA hosted an international conference on the development of hazelnut cultivation in Azerbaijan
20 November 2023
Within the framework of the project "Catalyzing the Efficiency and Sustainability of Azerbaijan’s Hazelnut Sector – HAZER," the Partnership and Liaison Office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Azerbaijan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Azerbaijan (MoA), organized an international conference on "Unlocking Hazelnut Potential: Innovative Approaches to Enhance Yield, Quality and Export Volume". The aim of the conference was to share global experiences in the hazelnut sector, explore innovations, and provide a platform by bringing different stakeholders together. The findings and results presented during this conference serve as the primary objectives, forming a crucial groundwork for potential advancements within the sector.
The event held on 15 November 2023 was attended by the representatives of the MoA and other state institutions, as well as the international and private sector, and local and international experts. Mr. Azad Jafarli, who delivered the opening speech at the beginning of the event held in a hybrid format, expressed the state's support in the field of agrarian development and emphasized the importance of establishing a solid foundation for increasing rural employment and reducing poverty levels. Additionally, when discussing the comparative analysis over the years, the Chief of Staff of the MoA highlighted that "in 2022, the area of hazelnut orchards increased by 2.5 times compared to 2015, and by 1.4% compared to 2021." Mr. Azad Jafarli emphasized the activities carried out within the framework of cooperation with FAO and expressed confidence that the agricultural policy's objectives would yield positive outcomes in this regard.
Mr. Bariz Mehdiyev, the deputy representative of FAO in Azerbaijan, delivered the opening speech, discussing FAO's activities in the country, including efforts to ensure food security, develop sustainable agriculture and food systems, and collaborate with the government. Mr. Mehdiyev highlighted hazelnuts as a key export commodity and a major contributor to the country's economy. He mentioned that in 2020, a project was initiated with the MoA to enhance hazelnut production efficiency and improve the quality of the harvested hazelnuts. Throughout the project, Mr. Mehdiyev explained that various measures were implemented to reduce aflatoxin contamination in hazelnuts, aligning their quality with global market standards. Additionally, he mentioned the use of drones and satellites to map hazelnut fields, achieving several milestones in the process. Mr. Mehdiyev emphasized the significant role of the agricultural sector in the socio-economic development strategy for 2022-2026. He expressed satisfaction with the achievements and successes in the agricultural sector, as highlighted by Mr. Jafarli in his speech.
Speaking about the current trends in the hazelnut market in the world, the experts highlighted the importance of the development of the hazelnut sector in the country's economy, as well as the related challenges. The first-panel discussion of the event, "Threats and opportunities in the hazelnut production sector, the example of Azerbaijan," the second-panel discussion "Innovations along the value chain," and the last panel discussion "Providing services for a competitive sector," partners exchanged views, prospects of future cooperation were discussed, and a number of issues related to the development of the hazelnut sector were touched upon. At the end of the panel discussions, representatives of FAO and MoA provided the final remarks and next steps.
Following the conference, a guided tour of the Old City was arranged for the international guests, concluding the day with a gala dinner. It's worth highlighting that the implementation of the HAZER project has once more underscored the importance of supporting local government institutions to contribute to the hazelnut sector in Azerbaijan.