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Over the past two decades, Azerbaijan has witnessed a remarkable agricultural transformation, particularly in the sectors of horticulture and vegetable farming. This article explores the substantial increase in fruit and vegetable production, showcasing the country’s successful agricultural policies, modern farming techniques, and innovative approaches that have led to significant advancements in crop yields and exports.
In the last 20 years, under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev and with robust state support, Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector, including horticulture and vegetable farming, has experienced stable and continuous growth. According to data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, the production of staple crops such as potatoes, vegetables, and melons has increased by 1.6 times, reaching 3,366.9 thousand tons in 2022 compared to 2003. Notably, vegetable production witnessed a 1.7-fold increase, potatoes showed a growth of 39.7%, and melon crops increased by 31.6% during this period.
The expansion of vegetable cultivation under greenhouse conditions has been a key factor in this growth. The country’s productivity indicators have also surged, with melon plants showing a 53.2% increase, potatoes recording a 40% rise, and vegetables demonstrating a 2.1-fold growth. In 2022, the productivity rates reached 233 centners/ha for melons, 196 centners/ha for vegetables, and 190 centners/ha for potatoes.
Furthermore, fruit and berry production in Azerbaijan surged by 2.2 times, reaching 1,253.1 thousand tons in 2022 compared to 2003. Orchards covering an area of approximately 222.4 thousand hectares contributed to this remarkable achievement. The area of orchards that began bearing fruit also increased to 174.4 thousand hectares by 2022. Notably, intensive cultivation methods led to a 32.3% increase in the area of orchards and a 47.4% rise in the area of super-intensive orchards.
This growth in fruit and vegetable production can be attributed to the effective utilization of intensive production methods, modern technologies, drip irrigation systems, high-yield plant varieties, and other resources. As a result, the country’s self-sufficiency level in fruit and vegetable production has risen significantly, leading to a substantial increase in export volumes.
In terms of exports, Azerbaijan witnessed a significant rise in the export of fruit, vegetables, and their processed products. From 2003 to 2022, the total export of these products increased by 4.2 times, reaching 490.4 million tons or 667.6 million USD in 2022. Tomatoes, dates, and nuts, in particular, have become leading export products. Moreover, potato and onion exports have also seen substantial growth, reaching 15.7 million tons in 2022, compared to 28 thousand tons in 2003.
In the past five years, exports of fruit and vegetable preserves and syrups increased by 38.5% in physical weight, reaching 19.6 thousand tons, valued at 24.7 million USD in 2022. Notably, exports of products like pomegranate syrup rose by approximately 28.6%.
The agricultural machinery sector has also seen significant specialization in potato and vegetable farming. The number of potato planting and harvesting machines increased approximately eightfold, with 64 potato harvesters and 141 diggers available in the country. This increase in machinery availability has led to enhanced productivity, making Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector more efficient and competitive in the global market.
Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector, especially in fruit and vegetable production, has experienced remarkable growth over the past two decades. Through the implementation of modern technologies, intensive cultivation methods, and effective use of resources, the country has achieved significant advancements in crop yields, productivity, and exports. These achievements not only contribute to the nation’s economy but also strengthen its position in the global agricultural market.