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EU-supported project helping Azerbaijani SMES in Guba-Khachmaz agricultural economic region put down roots

Azerbaijan’s Guba-Khachmaz economic region has the potential to be an agricultural powerhouse. According to the country’s State Statistics Committee, agriculture in the area is particularly geared toward vegetable and fruit production. In addition, grapes are grown in the Shabran, Siyazan and Khachmaz districts, and potato production is mainly concentrated around Gusar. Wheat is planted in every part of the economic region, while in lowland area of the economic region dairy farming is being developed. In the highland and mountainous zones sheep farming is the main activity. Poultry is raised in Siyazan and Shabran.

To encourage the development of this agricultural region, it will be important to increase local knowledge and skills, expand access to innovations, and provide training and practical advisory services that meet modern day challenges. The European Union, via its EU4Business initiative, is doing just that – aiding Azerbaijani SMEs through a project called “Support to the Development of a Rural Business Information System” or RBIS.

The initiative is being implemented to improve agricultural activity, strengthen the rural business environment, create jobs, and generate rural area growth by analysing the current situation in the field to be able to provide feedback to administrative bodies accordingly for future prospects of  rural SMEs in Azerbaijan’s Guba-Khachmaz economic region.

The RBIS initiative is being carried out in cooperation with a number of local organizations.

The RBIS aims to support rural development by increasing public authorities and other agricultural stakeholders’ capacity to collect and provide publicly available, current, relevant market information and data on Azerbaijan’s agriculture and rural regions.

Increasing jobs, reaching new markets

AzHazelnut is one of the local companies that will be benefitting from the RBIS project achievements in the long run and also provided valuable inputs for conducting non-oil study under RBIS project for Quba-Khachmaz Region.

The business is located in Khachmaz District, and is focused on hazelnut processing. The enterprise produces shelled, raw, blanched, roasted and chopped hazelnuts, as well as hazelnut flour, which it supplies to regional markets. AzHazelnut next plans to purchase new equipment, which will enable it to expand into retail sales (producing 100g, 250g, and 500g packages of hazelnuts).

At present, almost all of the company's production goes to foreign markets such as those of Russia, Uzbekistan and Germany. In the future, it plans to expand into yet more foreign markets.

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