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World Bank Lends Irrigation Support for 760,000 Farmers in Azerbaijan

Baku, April 27 (AZERTAC). The productivity of 760,000 small-scale farmers located in 27 provinces of Azerbaijan will improve thanks to the rehabilitation of the country`s on-farm irrigation and drainage networks and capacity building activities being supported by new World Bank financing.

The World Bank`s Board of Directors today approved a US$ 76.80 million equivalent IDA credit and a US$ 3.20 million IBRD loan for the Azerbaijan Water Users Associations Development Support Project (WUAP). With the US$ 34.30 million Government contribution, the total financing for the project is estimated at US$ 114.30 million. The goal of the project is to improve the water supply in irrigation systems managed by farmers.

With favourable climate and soils, Azerbaijan has a comparative advantage in the agricultural sector, but irrigation is a critical input for profitable crop production. Many irrigation systems need to be rehabilitated, especially the on-farm systems which are managed by water users themselves. Previous projects supported by the World Bank, helped water users with training to take over the management of irrigation systems, and with rehabilitation of the irrigation infrastructure. The new project will expand this support to a larger area and the majority of water users in the country.

"This project supports a key strategic objective of economic diversification," said Asad Alam, World Bank Regional Director for South Caucasus. “Rehabilitation of irrigation systems will support improvements in agriculture productivity, promote investments and exports, and will create jobs and higher incomes for farmers and rural workers.”

The WUAP focuses on strengthening the capacity of Water Users Associations (WUAs), which are responsible for the management of on-farm irrigation systems. “The project will provide training and support to about 379 WUAs on almost 900,000 hectares, helping them to improve the water supply to their members.” said David Meerbach, World Bank task manager for the project, “The project will also finance the rehabilitation of almost 3,000 km of irrigation and drainage canals and water regulation structures, benefitting 85,500 ha and 34 WUAs. Experience from previous projects show that this helps farmers to significantly increase their yields and raise their family income.”

Since joining the World Bank in 1992, the commitments to Azerbaijan total approximately US$ 2.9 billion for 43 projects.

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