Agrotourism can boost Azerbaijan's tourist flow with Russia's Bashkortostan (Exclusive interview)

Commentary Materials 29 May 2024 09:15 (UTC +04:00)
Agrotourism can boost Azerbaijan's tourist flow with Russia's Bashkortostan (Exclusive interview)
Kamran Gasimov
Kamran Gasimov
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 29. Agrotourism can contribute to the increase in tourist flow between Azerbaijan and Bashkortostan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture of Bashkortostan Ilshat Fazrakhmanov told Trend.

“In recent years, tourism in Russia, particularly in the Republic of Bashkortostan, has been developing dynamically. In the area related to agriculture, a direction called agrotourism has appeared. Agrotourism holds great promise for the development of rural areas, particularly by contributing to the socio-economic development of the regions, providing employment for the rural population, and increasing the volume of basic production and personal income of citizens. For the implementation of agrotourism projects, the state allocates a grant of 3 to 10 million rubles, depending on the share of investment in the project of the applicant's funds. You can use the funds to create tourist accommodation facilities, arrange and connect them to utilities, purchase tourist equipment, improve the territory, and pursue other objectives. Around the world, there is widespread interest in rural tourism. Each country seeks to create its own model of rural tourism development. I believe that agrarian tourism could act as a tool to support the development of the territory by expanding the tourist flow between our republics,” he said.

According to him, Bashkortostan and Azerbaijan have close trade and economic partnership relations in the implementation of agricultural products.

"In 2023, Bashkortostan exported wheat, meslin, flour, and strong alcoholic beverages to the Republic of Azerbaijan. The most popular exports from Bashkortostan to foreign markets also include sunflower oil and mixed fertilizers. From Azerbaijan, vegetables and fruits (pomegranates, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) are supplied to the Eurasia AgriPark (Ufa). Additionally, jams, jellies, marmalades, fruit and vegetable juices, and mineral water with added sugar are imported," he said.

Fazrakhmanov pointed out that, in order to strengthen and develop trade and economic relations, representatives of Bashkortostan participate in major exhibitions held in Azerbaijan. For example, Bashkortostan participated in an exposition at the 25th Anniversary Azerbaijan International Food Industry Exhibition, WorldFood.

Speaking about the prospects for cooperation between the Republic of Bashkortostan and Azerbaijan, the deputy prime minister highlighted that Bashkortostan sees further prospects for cooperation in the field of mutual supply of agricultural products.

"During our visit to Azerbaijan in April of this year, we discussed a wide range of issues with our colleagues. The Azerbaijani side has shown interest in the experience of Bashkortostan in supporting agricultural cooperatives and developing tourism service facilities with the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises.

We proposed implementing scientific developments from Bashkortostan's agricultural enterprises in Azerbaijan to ensure the food security of the friendly state. We see further prospects for cooperation in the field of mutual supply of agricultural products, as well as the export to Azerbaijan of fertilizers and agricultural machinery produced in Bashkortostan," he added.

The official also emphasized that, in modern realities, the use of technology and various innovations is an integral attribute of any business sector, including agribusiness.

"Both in Bashkortostan and Azerbaijan, the agro-industrial complex is dynamic and developing, and farmers strive to use advanced agricultural equipment and machinery. I am confident that there is much we can learn from each other and share experiences. During the visit of the Bashkir delegation, there was a meeting with the leadership of the Center for Agrarian Innovations under the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan.

The center promotes and implements agrarian innovations, periodically demonstrating innovative advancements to farmers, including new technologies for tillage, new irrigation methods, and efficient planting methods. We are always ready to cooperate in this direction, to inform farmers about new technologies, and to keep up with the times," the minister of agriculture said.

Speaking about plans to expand the export of products from Bashkortostan to Azerbaijan, Fazrakhmanov pointed out that Bashkortostan's agro-export has great potential for a threefold increase.

"By the end of 2023, the volume of agro-industrial exports from Bashkortostan increased by 79 percent compared to the previous year, with 747,800 tons of agricultural products shipped, totaling $338.6 million dollars. Bashkortostan hosts a genetic center for waterfowl, with the entire country coming to the republic for breeding stocks of geese and ducks.

In the region, we are developing crop production, and the production of grains and oilseeds. Two large Bashkir enterprises produce 450,000 tons of high-quality vegetable oil, which is actively supplied to China, India, and other countries. Bashkir honey is a globally renowned product.

We produce it in volumes of 12 thousand tons, of which 6,000 tons are marketable, and we can confidently increase volumes if demand rises. From the milk of Bashkir horses, we produce a healthy, tasty, natural, medicinal drink called kumis. All these products are already in demand on both domestic and international markets, and we'll expand the geography of our supplies," he added.

The deputy prime minister emphasized that Bashkortostan plans to develop cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of beekeeping.

"This will also be expressed in the scientific and research directions. Our region has an autonomous non-profit organization, 'Altyn Solok', which has the status of a breeding reproducer for the mid-Russian breed of bees, and a unique molecular-genetic testing laboratory has been established under it.

The 'Altyn Solok' laboratory houses the largest DNA bank of honey bees in Russia, which is constantly replenished and updated. Therefore, we can confidently collaborate with our Azerbaijani colleagues in the field of bee breeding. We can also share our experience in combating bee diseases. We plan to establish close cooperation in this area in the near future," said the minister.

According to him, Bashkortostan has a Center for Export Support, which provides support to exporters and export-oriented enterprises.

"The Center for Export Support of Bashkortostan supports exporters and export-oriented enterprises of Bashkortostan, helping organizations participate in exhibition and fair events and business missions, assisting with placement on electronic trading platforms, and generally providing training in foreign economic activities.

In addition, in Bashkortostan, it is possible to reimburse part of the costs associated with the certification of agro-industrial products in foreign markets, as well as part of the actual costs incurred by exporters when transporting their products to foreign markets," he concluded.

To note, the Azerbaijan-Bashkortostan business forum was held in Baku on April 24.

During his speech at the forum, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that Bashkortostan hopes for long-term cooperation with entrepreneurs from Azerbaijan.

“In an effort to foster an environment where Azerbaijani entrepreneurs may thrive, we will extend an invitation to them to join forces with us,” he added.

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