Azer­bai­jan to en­ter world mar­kets with qual­ity prod­ucts

Azer News - - Front Page - By Amina Nazarli

Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev vis­ited the south­ern re­gions of Azer­bai­jan last week­end to hold a con­fer­ence with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on boost­ing pro­duc­tion of tea, rice, and citrus fruits.

Pres­i­dent Aliyev toured Jalil­abad and Lankaran, which are his­tor­i­cally con­sid­ered the home of citrus fruits and tea. Here, the head of state at­tended open­ing of sev­eral high­ways, plan­ta­tions and fa­cil­i­ties.

The south­ern trip ad­dressed is­sues of re­duc­ing de­pen­dence on im­ports, meet­ing do­mes­tic de­mand through do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion and ex­pand­ing ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties. Pres­i­dent Aliyev em­pha­sized that the at­ten­tion paid to agri­cul­ture in all re­gions, and the poli­cies pur­sued by the state, have al­ready yielded ex­cel­lent results.

Chair­ing a repub­li­can con­fer­ence on the de­vel­op­ment of tea, rice and citrus fruits pro­duc­tion in Lankaran, Pres­i­dent Aliyev noted that the de­vel­op­ment of agri­cul­ture is a pri­or­ity for the coun­try.

“All ar­eas of agri­cul­ture are of cru­cial im­por­tance to us," the Pres­i­dent said in his open­ing speech. "Work that we have done and con­fer­ences that we have held re­cently, and my vis­its to re­gions once again show that we are on the right track.”

“We will in­crease self-suf­fi­ciency in a short pe­riod of time. With its qual­ity prod­ucts Azer­bai­jan will get greater ac­cess to world mar­kets. This will en­sure di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of our econ­omy. De­pen­dence on im­ports will be re­duced to min­i­mum, new jobs, new pro­duc­tion ar­eas will be cre­ated, which will be ben­e­fi­cial for all Azer­bai­jani cit­i­zens and our state.”

The head of state said that the government al­lo­cated low in­ter­est loans worth more than 2 bil­lion man­ats ($1.17 bil­lion) for en­trepreneurs over the last years, of course, en­trepreneurs also in­vested their funds. He noted that loans were mainly al­lo­cated to re­gions, agri­cul­ture and pro­cess­ing in­dus­try.

“As a re­sult of this ini­tia­tive, nearly 4 bil­lion man­ats ($2.35 bil­lion) or per­haps even more funds were al­lo­cated to the real sec­tor of the coun­try's econ­omy,” said the Pres­i­dent. “Although the price of oil is still very low to­day, we have in­creased our cur­rency re­serves by $3.6 bil­lion in seven months.”

Speak­ing about so­cial in­fra­struc­ture, Pres­i­dent Aliyev said that an Azer­bai­jani cit­i­zen is in the cen­ter of all work and pol­icy.

“A cit­i­zen of Azer­bai­jan should live well and have an op­por­tu­nity to live well. That's why so­cial is­sues, es­pe­cially ed­u­ca­tion, health is­sues have al­ways been a pri­or­ity for us,” he said.

The head of state noted that more than 3,000 schools and more than 600 med­i­cal cen­ters were built in re­cent years.

“At the same time, the con­di­tions cre­ated in our re­gions also prevent mi­gra­tion to large cities. Now peo­ple re­turn from cities to vil­lages. Be­cause very good op­por­tu­ni­ties for the de­vel­op­ment of agri­cul­ture were cre­ated,” the Pres­i­dent added.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing, Head of the Lankaran Re­gion Ex­ec­u­tive Power Taleh Garashov in­formed that for pro­duc­tion of rice in the re­gion a new plant was built with an an­nual pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity of 7,000 tons and a rice dry­ing ca­pac­ity of 10,000 tons.

Garashov said that due to the fact that the rice pro­duced in Lankaran is more qual­i­ta­tive, it has many buy­ers and there are enough mar­kets for sale. In the fu­ture, af­ter en­sur­ing do­mes­tic de­mand, the re­main­ing sur­plus prod­ucts are to be supplied to for­eign mar­kets.

Head of Masalli Re­gion Ex­ec­u­tive Power Rafil Huseynov, in turn, said that as a re­sult of government mea­sures the out­put of crop pro­duc­tion in the re­gion in­creased by 31.2 per­cent com­pared to last year.

The prod­ucts were mainly ex­port-di­rected. For seven months of this year, veg­eta­bles, early pota­toes, gar­lic and straw­ber­ries worth about 29 mil­lion manat ($17 mil­lion) were ex­ported to the coun­tries of near and far abroad un­der the Azer­bai­jani brand.

In his clos­ing speech, Pres­i­dent Aliyev said that the coun­try should ac­cel­er­ate the process of the restora­tion, and the re­vival of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries in the com­ing years.

Talk­ing about the de­vel­op­ment of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries such as tea and rice grow­ing, as well as citrus fruits, the head of state said that in re­cent years, im­por­tant steps have been taken in this di­rec­tion and promised that af­ter this con­fer­ence the de­vel­op­ment of th­ese three im­por­tant in­dus­tries will en­joy new im­pe­tus.

“The restora­tion of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries, which is the topic of to­day's dis­cus­sions, has al­ready led to a great re­vival. This pol­icy is ap­proved by farm­ers. Al­ready hun­dreds and thou­sands of new jobs are be­ing cre­ated,” he said.

Em­pha­siz­ing the high qual­ity of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts pro­duced in Azer­bai­jan are of very high qual­ity, nat­u­ral, and or­ganic, the Pres­i­dent said that there is a great in­ter­est in na­tional prod­ucts in for­eign mar­kets.

Re­mind­ing that tea-grow­ing in Azer­bai­jan has very great tra­di­tions Pres­i­dent Aliyev re­called the first tea fac­tory in Lankaran was es­tab­lished in the 1930s.

“One of the main tasks is to lay new tea plan­ta­tions. The state should pro­vide its sup­port and local ex­ec­u­tive bod­ies should sup­port farm­ers,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent cited fig­ures of im­ported tea, not­ing that in 2016, some 12,600 tons of tea were im­ported into the coun­try, to which Azer­bai­jan spent $45 mil­lion.

At the same time, 1,100 tons of tea was ex­ported in 2016, which brought $6.1 mil­lion to the coun­try.

“We ex­port tea. But we mainly ex­port pack­aged tea on the ba­sis of im­ported raw ma­te­ri­als or mixed tea. And we must process and ex­port tea grown in Azer­bai­jan. Then we will not lose so much cur­rency,” he ex­plained.

Tea plan­ta­tions in the coun­try are 1,016 hectares, in­clud­ing 568 hectares in Lankaran, 345 hectares in As­tara, 60 hectares in Za­gatala and 43 hectares in Masalli re­gions.

Pres­i­dent Aliyev fur­ther men­tioned that in con­trast to tea grow­ing, rice cul­ti­va­tion has been de­vel­op­ing rapidly in re­cent years.

If rice was planted on 1,000 hectares in 1991, this area reached 2,500 hectares in 2016, where 5,600 tons of rice was har­vested. In the same year, the crop area dou­bled to 5,000 hectares.

Last year Azer­bai­jan im­ported 48,000 tons of rice worth $37 mil­lion.

Over­all, some 12 re­gions of the coun­try are en­gaged in pro­duc­tion of rice grow­ing in the coun­try.

As the upcoming mea­sures, Pres­i­dent Aliyev or­dered to grant loans on pref­er­en­tial terms and cre­ate new mod­ern en­ter­prises for rice pro­cess­ing.

As for citrus, the head of state said that this in­dus­try is also given very great at­ten­tion.

The citrus plants have been ex­tended from 1,700 hectares in 2000 to 2,500 hectares at present. Last year lemons were planted on 470 hectares, while or­anges on 255 hectares, and man­darins 1,700 hectares.

In 2016, a to­tal of 27,000 tons of citrus fruits worth $17 mil­lion were im­ported into the coun­try, in­clud­ing 9,000 tons were lemons, 4,600 tons were man­darins, 12,000 tons were or­anges, and 2,000 tons were kiwi.

The Pres­i­dent said that en­trepreneurs should pay at­ten­tion to th­ese fig­ures so that at the ini­tial stage, it is nec­es­sary to grow this amount of citrus in Azer­bai­jan to elim­i­nate the de­pen­dence on im­ports.

“In or­der to elim­i­nate the de­pen­dence on im­ports, 27,000 tons of citrus fruits should be pro­duced in Azer­bai­jan. We har­vested 19,000 tons in 2010, and 46,000 tons of citrus in 2016. The growth is very large - more than twice in six years. This is a good dy­namic, but so far it can­not fully sat­isfy us,” the Pres­i­dent said.

The head of state noted in Lankaran the main is­sue is to cre­ate a large ex­port po­ten­tial. “Th­ese in­struc­tions must be car­ried out. Then we will achieve this goal. In par­al­lel, we must look for ex­port mar­kets for th­ese prod­ucts,” he said.

Dur­ing the visit to Jalil­abad, Pres­i­dent Aliyev at­tended the open­ing of the 22.2km-long Lankaran-Masalli stretch of the Alat-As­tara-Iran state bor­der high­way, the 32.2km-long Masalli-Jalil­abad sec­tion of the AlatAs­tara-Iran state bor­der high­way as well as Jalil­abad-As­tanli-Jan­gan-Soltankand high­way.

Here, the Pres­i­dent also at­tended the launch of wa­ter sup­ply and sewage sys­tems, and viewed con­di­tions at the newly-re­con­structed ad­min­is­tra­tive and tech­no­log­i­cal build­ing of Jalil­abad Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Net­work.

The in­au­gu­ra­tion of Avan­gard LLC's ce­re­als and pulses clean­ing and pack­ing com­plex was also a part of the pres­i­dent's visit to Jalil­abad.

Then, the head of state also viewed Gu­nashli-Agro LLC`s Agropark, which fea­tures 563-hectare bar­ley, 530hectare sugar beet, 219-hectare wheat, 160-hectare cot­ton, 68-hectare maize and 60-hectare clover plan­ta­tions.

As part of the visit to Lankaran the Pres­i­dent viewed local farmer Araz Yagubov's tea plan­ta­tion “Yashil Chay”, and vis­ited As­tara Chay plan­ta­tions with to­tal area of 289 hectares.

Pres­i­dent Aliyev also viewed Janub Agro LLC's rice pad­dies and in­au­gu­rated a rice plant, oc­cu­py­ing a to­tal area of 225 hectares. The rice pad­dies oc­cupy an area of 35 hectares, which will be ex­panded by 27.5 hectares in the fu­ture.

Then, the head of state opened Khazar Palace ho­tel com­plex, lo­cated in a two-hectare area.

The last stop in the pres­i­den­tial trip was Gi­lan Or­chards LLC's citrus gar­dens, oc­cu­py­ing a to­tal area of 100 hectares. Some 45,000 hal­labong trees brought from the Repub­lic of Korea were planted in the plan­ta­tions.

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