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Potato production increased in Azerbaijan

Potato production increased in Azerbaijan
How will increase in potato yield affect prices?

Potato yield in Azerbaijan has increased by 7 percent, a source in the country’s Ministry of Agriculture told Trend.
From January to July 2019, 576.3 tons of potatoes were harvested from 34,000 hectares, which means harvesting 60.1 percent of the total area of ​​potato fields. Potato harvesting continues.
The Ministry of Agriculture also noted that this year potatoes were planted on a smaller area than last year.
"If in 2018, 59,300 hectares were planted with potatoes, in 2019 – 56,900 hectares of fields,” the ministry said.
As a popular second choice after bread, potatoes are a major part of our daily diet. It is no coincidence that the highest demand after bread is potatoes. In this sense, the increase in potato yield is a positive thing. But will potato yield fully meet the demands of the domestic market? How will the increase in yield affect prices?
The increase in potato yield regulates the pricing policy in the domestic market, Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Vegetable Growing Elmar Allahverdiyev told Kaspi.
"That is, in such circumstances, prices fall automatically. In recent years, special attention is being paid to planting potatoes. Farmers are using more advanced technological innovations year after year. Especially fertilizers and cultivation technologies are used more efficiently. The increase in yield stems from this factor. Various work is also underway to educate farmers who are already trying to get more output from their fields. For this purpose, it is necessary to know the secrets of cultivation technologies. Trainers from the Ministry of Agriculture regularly conduct trainings in all districts. In a free market economy, prices are formed on a supply-demand basis. This year was declared the "Year of Agriculture". Therefore, there were significant improvements in all areas of the agricultural sector, not just the potato sector. Increase in yield ultimately leads to a secure domestic market and lower prices,” the deputy director noted.
According to agricultural specialist Nijat Nasirli, potato yield in the country surpasses total consumption several times each year and the state’s support for this area, as well as the product gaining a favorable position in the market, increases interest in this area every year.
"Last year, the government adopted the Decision No. 375 on selling local potatoes on domestic markets to not cause damage to farming. As a result the domestic market was secured for 3 months. The decision’s main aim was addressing problems in potato sales due to the increase in yield and cultivation compared to the previous year, as well as optimizing the price of potatoes for both manufacturers and consumers, and preventing profit loss due to the excessive drop in prices. Both goals were achieved due to the short-term ban. Firstly, large quantities of goods that were left in the hands of local producers were sold in local markets. The income loss of individual producers was minimized, with the relative increase in the prices of potatoes produced in major potato producing districts Gadabay, Shamkir, Tovuz. This decision played an effective intervention tool for the state in regulating the agricultural market. Against the background of the weakening national currencies of Iran and Russia, two countries which form Azerbaijan’s major import potato market, large quantities of goods imported from these countries could have a serious negative effect on domestic production.  50,000 tonnes of potatoes are imported from Iran each year with more than 43,000 tonnes from Russia. The state acting swiftly, doubled the tariffs on imported potatoes to 30%. Thus, the local market was secured, and the manufacturer was insured against loss by offering his products on the market. Statistical analysis shows that potato yield increased by 15 tons per hectare, and production reached 914,000 tonnes. The annual potato consumption was predicted to be 743,000 tonnes in 2018, taking into account 74.29 kg per capita consumption. Against the background of weakening national currenices, exporting the 171,000 tonnes of surplus didn’t seem realistic. Therefore, the alternative approach was to enable an intervention tool.  However, all this cannot refute the figures on imports.  Starting from November, the demand for potatoes begins to grow rapidly, and this trend continues until April. Up to 160,000 tonnes of potatoes are imported to the country during autumn and winter, which totals 16% of the country's demand,” the specialist said.
The expert noted that various work could be done to develop this area.
"Analyses show potato fields expanding in recent years but we have not been able to achieve maximum results in potato yield. To do this, a seed-growing system must be established. Only 2% of the demand for seeds is supplied by local producers, a greater part of  it is imported, so yield remains a close target. Currently, work is underway to establish national potato seed-growing,” he noted.



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