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Gender and Land Rights Database

Azerbaijan

In 2014, the country’s estimated population was 9477.1 million, of which 50.3 percent were women (1). The average population density in 2013 was 114 people per square kilometre (2). In 2014, 53.2 percent of the population lived in urban areas and 46.8 percent lived in rural areas (1). As a result of the 1988−1994 armed conflict, in 2003 approximately one million people, or 12 percent of the country’s population, were refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) surviving on humanitarian aid (3).

Azerbaijan is a upper middle-income country, with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$75.20 billion in 2014. Agriculture’s share of exports declined from 10 percent in 1994 (3) to 5.9 percent in 2004 (4), compared with about 30 percent prior to independence, because of increases in oil production and exports (3). In terms of value added to the GDP, agriculture is now next in importance to the oil sector; the agricultural GDP declined from representing about 20 percent of total GDP in 1997–2001 (3) to 8.6 percent in 2006 (2). The agricultural sector employs 25 percent of the workforce, with small-scale farmers producing about 96 percent of agricultural output, especially wheat, barley, forage crops, cotton, tobacco, vegetables, grapes and other fruits (4). Due to wide variations in climate, elevation and rainfall, the country has a highly diversified agricultural sector. Livestock production is an important economic activity in both irrigated and mountain areas. Overall rainfall is low and more than three-fourths of the 1.5 million ha of cultivated land is under irrigation. However, compared with the country's potential output, yields are low because of deteriorated irrigation and drainage systems and outdated machinery. Farmers are also short of inputs and equipment and they lack access to rural credit and markets (5). During 2010-2014, the national GDP grew steadily, estimating US$7,811.6 the per capita GDP (2). From the total GDP, agriculture accounts for only 6 per cent, while the gas and oil sectors account for 36 per cent. Still agriculture is a major contributed to the country’s non-oil economy, employing in Azerbaijan 40 per cent of the workforce. In rural areas, one-fourth of household income is gained from agriculture (4). In terms of food products, imports outweigh exports by ratio of 2,5 to 1, and in 2005-2007 imports averaged per year more than US$640 million, while exports less than US$385 million per year (5). Cereals (61%), forage (19,6%), vegetables (4,3%) and potatoes (3,5%) were major cultivated crops in 2010. The country exports products to Turkey, Georgia, Iran, Russia and other countries. Due to recent the EU sanctions against Russia, the export of agricultural food from Azerbaijan to Russia has increased. Livestock production is the second largest agricultural activity in the country, usually undertaken at a household level. Many rural families make a living by selling cattle, meat and dairy products (10).

As of 2013, the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) value was 0.747, ranking 76th out of the 187 countries for which HDI was calculated(6). In the past 15 years, Azerbaijan’s poverty rate decreased due to the economic growth. In 2001, almost 50 per cent of population lived in poverty, and in 2013 the percentage fell to 5 per cent of poor. Of that number, 51 per cent live in rural areas. The poverty is highest among families with larger number of children who live in remote and mountainous areas. In particularly, poor rural women are affected by poverty, as 43.9 per cent of female employment is within agriculture production (4).  

In 2012, 6 percent of the population lived below the national poverty line and 0.3 percent of the population lived below the US$1 per day poverty level (2008) (6). In 2010, the number of the rural population living in poverty was approximately 800,108.6 (4). Among the rural population, 18.5 percent lived below the national poverty line (2008). In rural areas, almost 39 percent of households are managed by single women. These, together with larger households with more than three dependents, are generally the most disadvantaged (4). The literacy rate for people over 15 years of age was 100 percent for males and 100 percent for females in 2012 (2). Life expectancy at birth in 2013 was estimated at 68 years for males and 74 years for females (2).

The female labour force represented 63 percent of the total labour force in 2013 (2). The rural female labour force accounted for 48.5 percent of the total female labour force in 1997. Currently, agriculture employs over 44 percent of women (8). Men who work in agriculture have better access than women to business support services, training and education, which contribute to better work opportunities and higher pay. On average, a woman in Azerbaijan earns only 57 percent of a man’s salary and has fewer benefits, shorter contracts and inferior working conditions, although specific data on average female wages compared with male wages in agriculture are not currently available (9). The disintegration of the state and collective farms once responsible for operating agricultural supply chains and maintaining infrastructure in rural areas, coupled with a lack of resource allocation, have led to a rapid decline in rural services and infrastructure, with a consequent decrease in the living standards of people in rural areas. With the loss of state-supported child care and elderly facilities, women in rural areas have been faced with increasing responsibilities to care for children and the elderly, usually in addition to their income-generating work in the informal sector. In addition, fewer women household heads than men are landowners and women heads of household tend to own smaller-sized plots. In 2004, the average plot size for 66.4 percent of male heads of household was 70.3 sot, or 0.01 hectares, compared with 46.6 sot for the 55.7. The main type of plot was a backyard plot and its primary use was for personal consumption and for consumption and marketing purposes. Only 1.5 percent of women and 1.9 percent of men used the land specifically for marketing purposes (10).

Land reform has been completed over 1.3 million ha of cropland, which was distributed to more than 860 000 rural households (3). Today the country is among the leaders in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in farm privatization and registration of arable land (11). In the re-distributive land reform completed in 2004, most of the Soviet state farms and collectives were disbanded and a total of 1.3 million ha of arable land was distributed to rural households. The 1996 law on Land Reform specified three forms of land ownership: state, municipal and private (3). Small-scale farmers on privatized, individual plots of up to 3 ha today produce more than 90 percent of the country’s agricultural output. The government continues to own most of the pasture land. Farmers obtain rights to graze from local municipalities (5).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography