Baku, April 1, AZERTAC
"Strengthening Agricultural Advisory Services (AAS)" Project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), invited the agronomist-expert to provide the farmers in Guba-Khachmaz and Ganja-Gazakh regions of the country with advisory service.
According to the FAO Country Office in Azerbaijan, the expert met with farmers grouped in commodity-based advisory platforms, which are the part of the new agricultural advisory services model proposed by the Project to the country.
During the meetings in Aghstafa, Samukh, and Shamkir districts - sorghum and sunflower fields, tomato greenhouses, apple, cherry and plum orchards in Guba district, and tomato fields in Khachmaz district, it was noticed that most of the farmers' problems were caused by not using professional agronomist's advice.
"Unfortunately, today in Samukh district where farmers can sow 4 kg of certified sunflower seeds per hectare, while sowing 14 kg of uncertified seeds per hectare, they increase their costs more than 3 times" said Associate Professor of the Department of Horticulture of Azerbaijan State Agrarian University Huseyn Idrisov who was involved as agronomist expert of the project. The agronomist noted that apple orchards in Guba were replaced by cherry orchards without taking into account climate and soil factors, fertilizers and elements were used without soil analysis. "On the sour cherry based advisory platform the farmer gave the iron element to the soil without analysis, and as a result of the analysis, it was determined that this element exceeds normal indicator 7 times. The owner of the orchard explained it by the opportunity to buy this element at an affordable price”. “The cases such as non-planting of pollinated varieties in sour cherry orchards, not thinning of flowers during flowering, frequent inter-row plowing in apple orchards and, as a result, drying the roots of the trees earlier, improper use of water, non-compliance with pruning rules show that the farmers treat their farms with the spontaneous habits, not informed skills,” he mentioned.
The meeting of the open field tomatoes` advisory platform in Khachmaz also discussed the development of seed production of the local tomato varieties. The skills of local farmers create favourable conditions for the development of this area.
Commodity-based advisory platforms are groups of farmers that offer agricultural advisory services to be accessible to all farmers. Farmers growing any crop come together in a group and each farmer group regularly work with a facilitator with a broad supply network. The facilitator, after the discussions with the farmers, provides them with solution or with the contact of other relevant professionals who can solve the problem.
The project "Strengthening Agrarian Advisory Services" has created a 7 commodity-based advisory platform for 6 crops in the pilot regions of Guba-Khachmaz and Ganja-Gazakh - sorghum, sunflower, tomato (two CBAs; one for greenhouse tomato in Shamkir and another for open field tomato in Khachmaz), apple, sour cherry, plum and hired facilitators for each of them. After the winter discussions, the facilitators recommended inviting an agronomist consultant to provide farmers with solutions.
The Project develops a 5-year strategy for strengthening agricultural advisory services in Azerbaijan, a new model of agricultural advisory services and a 3-year plan for the development of AAS in pilot regions.
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