North-East development project
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North-East Development Project
North-East development project
The project is located in a region that has a particularly high incidence of rural poverty. In 2002 an estimated 58 per cent of the local population was poor, and one quarter of them were extremely poor.
The overall project goal is to improve living conditions for households that depend on irrigated agriculture in the target area, by supporting increased food security and income-generating opportunities. Most of the households targeted have received plots of land through the privatization scheme.
Azerbaijan depends to a large extent on the irrigated sector for rural employment and for national food security. Neglect and lack of maintenance have made the extensive Soviet-era irrigation and drainage system extremely inefficient, leading to a decline in agricultural productivity. By 2002 the irrigation infrastructure in the target area was so degraded that only about 44 per cent of the area was under irrigation. The system needs major rehabilitation and improved management to ensure that it is carefully maintained and efficient in the future.
The project helps rehabilitate an irrigation area of about 30,300 ha. It builds the capacity of the six water users’ associations that will manage the system. Specific activities include:
- helping water users’ associations establish systems that are financially viable, equitable and sustainable
- helping small-scale farmers increase food production by introducing improved technologies
- improving marketing and processing opportunities
- making rural financial services available to small-scale farmers and other microentrepreneurs, especially women
Business development in the Siyazan region
The Community Information and Business Development Centre (CIBDC) project in the Siyazan region was initiated by the Azerbaijani NGO Madad (Human Organization Public Union) within the framework of the North-East Development Project.
The project helps develop small and medium enterprises engaged in producing, processing and marketing agricultural goods. It also teaches business development skills in selected areas in the Siyazan region.
Madad has conducted training sessions for local entrepreneurs and farmers in six critical skills, including market analysis, accounting and finance, small business management and product marketing. As a back-up to local entrepreneurs and farmers, it provides consulting services in business plan development.
The free Internet access offered at the centre has proved extremely popular with participants. Local men and women are exploring the many ways they can use information from the Internet to benefit their own businesses. They are exploring opportunities for advancement in their fields, or for employment, or for overall regional development. Farmers and entrepreneurs are collecting market data on commodities and searching for information about new agricultural products and up-to-date agricultural equipment from other countries, especially from Russia. They are also using the Internet to communicate across regions and exchange experiences and ideas.
Madad also plays a key role in initiating collaboration between local farmers and a wine processing factory in Siyazan. Farmers are now exploring the possibility of diversifying into grape cultivation. Both parties would benefit, as the farmers would assume only minor risks by investing in the grape farming business, and the wine processing factory would have the supply of raw materials that it needs. This collaboration has potential to create an important partnership in the region that could bring real benefits to the local economy.