Baku, Azerbaijan, May 20
By Aysham Rustamova – Trend:
The Azerbaijani State Agrarian Trade Company intends to greatly support farmers in the country through the creation of "green markets", by holding fairs, training and other initiatives, director of the State Agrarian Trade Company Leyla Mammadova said in an interview with Trend.
"Despite the short period of activity, our company has arranged the sale of farm products through internal and external channels,” she said. “Moreover, we use both traditional and alternative sales channels. For example, we have been selling agricultural products abroad since 2018."
Expansion of green market chains and new sales channels
“The company’s main goal is to support small and medium-sized farms,” Mammadova said. “On December 25, 2018, we created the first green market under the “From village to city” brand for the small and medium-sized farms, which promotes and sells the products of local farmers and food producers."
“Presently, the company intends to expand the green market chains,” she stressed.
“According to the “Strategic Roadmap on Production and Processing of Agricultural Products in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, five farmer markets, the so-called “green markets”, must be created in the country until 2020,” Mammadova said. “We have already created such a market. We intend to create the second one soon. We will open three more markets under the "From the village to the city" brand till late 2019, which will help to sell the products of small and medium-sized farms.”
“The more such green markets open, the higher the likelihood of product sales,” she said. “We encourage consumers to buy products of domestic producers and support their activity through "green markets". Green markets allow consumers to produce organic, healthy products at favorable prices. For example, during the onion price increase, we offered it at the lowest price because we supply the products to the city directly from farmers.”
An integral part of the work of the State Agrarian Trade Company is an innovative approach, she added.
"In this regard, as another channel for the sale of agricultural products, we launched the kenddenshehere.az portal, which can now be used by residents of Baku and the Absheron Peninsula. Purchases can be paid for on the website using a credit card or in cash upon order delivery. With similar services, including logistics, we try to support small and medium-sized farms," said Mammadova.
Mammadova also touched upon the “farmer cards”, which the State Agrarian Trade Company, together with Kapital Bank, began to issue since November last year.
As she noted, products of more than 100 farmers were purchased under this new mechanism.
"This is sort of like a salary card for a farmer. The key aspect is that reporting is created when using this card. In other words, a financial summary is generated for the farmer, and statistics are generated for us. The farmer’s card is very user-friendly, so the number of farmers who want help to sell products grows. Such cards are provided not only for sale at the "From Village to City" fairs, but also for export. If a farmer cooperating with us does not have a taxpayer identification number, then the payment is made via the farmer’s card,” she said.
Organization of agricultural fairs
This year, Mammadova continued, it is planned to hold holiday and seasonal fairs. She recalled that similar fairs had already been organized last year.
"These fairs distinguished themselves from previously organized fairs with tidiness and free services. We do not demand farmers to pay extra for organizing the fairs. They can use all services for free. What is included in these services? The delivery of goods, the provision of a special uniform, weights, hot tea, and the organization of stands in accordance with sanitary standards. All products put up for sale are checked by employees of the Food Safety Agency, and these check-ups are also free of charge," she said.
Mammadova noted that as continuation of this tradition, this year, together with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Baku Executive Power, with the assistance of local executive authorities, fairs were organized on the occasion of the Novruz holiday (celebrated March 20-21) in 14 locations in the capital.
“The fairs gave positive results,” she said. “For example, a farmer with apple orchards in Guba district sold about ten tons of apples in two days. Undoubtedly, if farmers can sell their products at fairs and make a profit, this is our success, and this pleases us. The fairs that have been conducted so far have achieved their goal: the farmers sold the brought products, and the residents were able to buy agricultural products directly from the farmer. The prices at the fairs were favorable, and consumers could save money.”
Mammadova stressed that through the fairs “From the village to the city” alone, the company helped sell the products to more than 200 farmers.
New projects with international organizations
Presently, the State Agrarian Trade Company, jointly with the Azerbaijani office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is implementing a project related to the participation of women in agriculture (AFAQ), Mammadova said.
“As part of the project, for two years we will support women actively working in the agricultural sector and interested in entrepreneurial activities in this area,” she said. “We will provide them with information and material support. Our main task is to strengthen the role of women entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture and help them expand production.”
Mammadova also spoke about cooperation with government agencies.
“For example, together with the State Customs Committee and the Financial Market Supervisory Authority of Azerbaijan, we organized special trips to many regions of the country,” she said.
“During these trips, our company and employees of the above mentioned government agencies organized very important trainings for farmers. The surveys showed that the farmers who took part in these trainings were satisfied.”