Azerbaiyán: International demand increases for local potato
By Rashid Shirinov The climate of Azerbaijan is favorable for the cultivation of many fruits and vegetables, including potato, which is grown in large amounts in the country.
However, there is a need for increasing potato farming since Azerbaijan imports this vegetable from abroad as well.
Data by the State Statistical Committee says that last year the import of potatoes exceeded exports by $14 million ($40 million and $26 million respectively). Nevertheless, local potato production also increased in 2017, and newly created greenhouses seriously contributed to this.
“Potato farming is a profitable field for farmers, and therefore they prefer to grow potato in greenhouses and then to sell it profitably to Russia and large cities of Azerbaijan,” says Bakikhan Bagirov, deputy head of the Tovuz region Agriculture Department.
A local exporter Mehman Guseynov who transports potato to Baku and Russia, says that demand for his potatoes has increased two to three times. Thus, the high demand for potato makes local farmers increase the cultivation areas as well as use greenhouses for a faster harvest.
Spokesman of the Agriculture Ministry Murtuzali Hajiyev notes that the number of greenhouses in Azerbaijan has increased in recent years, which is due to the state privileges to farmers and the fact that potato farming is a profitable business.
“In the west and north of the country as well as in the Jalilabad region, farmers’ interest in potato growing has increased. Potato cultivation in greenhouses has begun in order to provide markets with potatoes and increase export potential,” Hajiyev says.
Experts note that the creation of new greenhouses should be continued in the country. Azerbaijani economist Vugar Bayramov, for instance, assumes that local potatoes can enter new markets.
“The demand for potatoes is high in the countries of the Persian Gulf and the European Union – they can become new markets for the export of Azerbaijani potatoes,” he notes.
The remarks, that the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has recently made at the conference on the fourth year of implementation of the state program for socio-economic development of regions of Azerbaijan in 2014-2018, are noteworthy in this regard.
“The production of potatoes should be sufficient to rule out imports. We should be able to meet the domestic demand and export,” the President said.
Given the fact that local farmers have started a wider use of greenhouses as well as the increased demand for potatoes, there is reason to believe that by the end of this year, production of potatoes will reach such a level that Azerbaijan will be able to fully provide the population with this vegetable.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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