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It’s never too late to learn’: Reaping the harvests of high-tech farming in Azerbaijan

May 22, 2019

Over half of the population of the Shaki region in the northwest of Azerbaijan work in agriculture, producing some 14% of the country’s entire wheat harvest.

Like most smallholding farmers in Shaki, Kazim and his six children practice traditional methods, basing their planting and harvesting decisions on previous experience and guesswork and using surface irrigation. These traditional farming methods produce lower crop yields, degrade the soil, reduce biodiversity, and impose an unsustainable strain on the region’s scarce water resources. These combined factors further make the farmers of the Shaki region especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Bringing about fundamental changes in traditional practices is a complex challenge in any context and one that requires sensitivity to local needs and concerns, with realistic measures to support transition and clear incentives to encourage the adoption of more sustainable practices.

This is the approach taken by a new UNDP Agro-Biodiversity Programme funded by the Global Environment Facility and the Government of Azerbaijan with the aim of helping small-scale farmers to improve their livelihoods by adapting their techniques.

This is a story of Kazim Mammadov, a farmer in Shaki who is now utilising more sustainable irrigation and cropping techniques and with that not only he is making significant savings but he is also helping to preserve the environment.

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