Twinning project “Strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to improve effectiveness and efficiency of state support to agriculture" financed by the European Union was launched at a kick-off meeting on August 1, ONA reports citing Azertag.
The project is designed to support ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture to modernize the agricultural sector and enhance its performance as part of the Government of Azerbaijan economic diversification policy. In using some of the EU's agriculture and rural development policy principles and best practice the project will address a variety of sector challenges identified by Azerbaijan. These include measures to link public support more effectively to sector policy objectives, improve environmental standards through introduction of good agricultural practice, promote cooperation structures notably in support of better organizing smallholders, increase support to structural, non - trade distorting “green box measures” and enhance electronic information systems to better serve famers while improving transparency and control of subsidy payments.
The project is implemented by the Agency for Agro-Credit and Development (AKIA) in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and bodies of the agricultural administrations of Poland and Lithuania. Other Azerbaijani Agricultural Sector Institutions and Ministry of Agriculture departments are further cooperation partners. The project started in May 2019 and will run for 24 months.
The event was opened by Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ilhama Gadimova, EUD Minister Counsellor and Head of Cooperation Simona Gatti and AKIA Chairman Mirza Aliyev.
“In the new wave of reform in the agriculture sector launched with the initiative and the political will of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we are learning about the best practices in the agrarian sector of the world, and are benefiting from the ones that suit us most. Some European countries are in the list of the most advanced agricultural producers in the world in terms of both volume and application of innovations. In the past reform phase, the European countries are a good example for us," Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ilhama Gadimova said at the presentation of the EU-Azerbaijan Twinning Project.
Ms. Gatti said: "I expect this project to make a significant contribution to sustainably develop the agriculture and rural development potential of Azerbaijan, using its enormous diversity while enhancing the protection of both environment and rural cultural heritage. I am happy to see that three EU member states with most relevant and complementary sector competence have agreed to support this joint EU-Azerbaijan effort. The project continues the EU-Azerbaijani partnership in the domain of agriculture, rural development and food safety and which is geared towards improving rural livelihoods, enhance food safety, market access and thus trade prospects."
“The state support to the agrarian sector directly contributes to the development of rural areas. Because living standards in rural areas are related to the employment in the agricultural sector," said Mirza Aliyev, Chairman of the Agency for Agro-Credit and Development, who implements the project. The Agency Chairman who is the head of the "Strengthening the National Policy on Rural Development in Azerbaijan" project added that after the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 19 December 2018 on application of the preferential terms in the sale of agricultural machinery and breeding animals, the approval of the "Agricultural Production Subsidy Rule" by the Decree dated 27 June 2019 demonstrates that the government's support for the agricultural sector will be sustainable. “Targeted organization of subsidies is our main task. A subsidiary system driven by the intelligent tools will allow both to protect public funds and to stimulate production by supporting farmers,” said.
Further, AKIA Chairman Mirza Aliyev spoke in detail about the Twinning Project, saying that the purpose of the project is to support the Ministry of Agriculture for strengthening the National Policy and Tools for Rural Development in Azerbaijan by identifying successful mechanisms and best practices of the EU General Agricultural Policy. The project envisages along with the development of appropriate strategies and policies on the agricultural sector as well as promotion of the development of the rural area, also development of the appropriate administrative capacity and human resources, including legal aspects of EU experience in information technology procedures and Integrated Management and Control systems. A working group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population was established to implement the project.