FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Good agricultural practices help Azerbaijani hazelnut farmers increase efficiency and quality

A new FAO project catalyzing the efficiency and sustainability of Azerbaijan’s hazelnut sector "HAZER" was virtually launched in June, under the FAO-Azerbaijan Partnership Programme.

Azerbaijan is among the world’s top five hazelnut producer countries, predominantly exporting raw hazelnuts to Russia and other countries. In the recent years, the government has introduced various incentives for the sector that still has a great – yet unused – potential to sustainably expand in quantity and quality, contributing to the diversification of the economy.

The project therefore aims to empower smallholder farmers to adopt good agricultural practices for the increased production efficiency of hazelnuts, with adapted mechanization technologies and services and to increase the quality of nuts produced, with a specific focus on reducing the risk of aflatoxin contamination.

“I would like to highlight the importance of working with different partners on the hazelnut sector, including small and medium-size farmers, and ensuring their ownership throughout the project implementation for long-term impact,” said FAO agricultural engineer Mayling Flores Rojas. “The project will be a collective effort to enhance the quality and productivity of hazelnut production to improve the livelihoods of farmers.“

The project supports newly established national institutes and state agencies while linking them to private sector actors. FAO’s technical knowledge in crop production and protection, genetic resources conservation, mechanization, remote sensing mapping, bioenergy, monitoring, and evaluation all play an important role in providing the right support of this pursuit.

“The goal is to improve the productivity and quality of hazelnuts, and increase incomes, business opportunities, social equity, and environmental protection,” said Fenton Beed, FAO’s senior agricultural officer. “The success of the project will be guaranteed through active partnerships between technical, government agencies, and the private sector.“

Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, including its department of fruits and vegetables, and FAO experts participated in the virtual project inception workshop.

3 July 2020, Baku, Azerbaijan