“The European Union's support to regional and rural development is one of the key priorities in our cooperation with Azerbaijan. In this regard I warmly welcome the registration of our recent grant contracts that will provide practical support to small and medium agri-business owners throughout Azerbaijan, help them develop their businesses further, create jobs and generate profits. I am particularly pleased to see that support to vulnerable groups and women features high on the agenda of these grants,” said Ambassador Kestutis Jankauskas, Head of the European Union Delegation. “Given the negative impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on rural communities I do expect that these projects within the limits of their scope also help improve the prospect for economic recovery of project beneficiaries in the post COVID 19 period,” the ambassador added.
The four new grant contracts will envisage:
-Promotion of the local food production and small and medium farms through advisory services, the creation of new value chain models and agri-tourism development in Shaki-Zagatala and Mountainous Shirvan areas;
-Establishment of the local farmers group of pomegranate producers and support of their transformation and achievement of excellence in pomegranate value chain, including in training them on use of pesticides, fertilizers to ensure food safety in the Aran Economic Region;
-Creation of a sustainable agri-tourism and ecotourism development mechanism that will help rural households in southern regions of Azerbaijan increase their revenue;
-Promotion of authentic local food heritage through strengthening female agripreneurship and increased income generation through development of new market opportunities, creative branding and marketing, and innovative agricultural inputs in all regions of Azerbaijan. The project will include also the establishment of the Baku-based food heritage women's café.
It should be noted that 2 other grant projects in the area of agriculture were signed earlier, namely on development of sustainable and inclusive local agri-food systems in Gakh, Zagatala and Balakan and on assistance to farmers to develop the sustainable value chains on soft fruit and vegetable production in Barda, Aghdam, Tartar, Goranboy, Samukh, Goygol, Shamkir, Tovuz, Aghstafa and Gazakh regions.
All 6 above-mentioned EU-funded contracts valued at € 3.5 million are part of EU’s AP 2015 – Integrated Regional Development of Azerbaijan programme that aims to support regional development by contributing to business development, investment promotion and employment generation, while raising rural livelihoods and quality of life in rural areas.