Breakthrough in agricultural technology: Azerbaijan boosts grain yield with Innovation

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In the modern world, agriculture is one of the key sectors playing a crucial role in ensuring food security and sustainable development. The rapid development of technology and the introduction of innovations have significantly changed agricultural practices, including methods of growing grain crops.

Currently, agriculture in Azerbaijan is undergoing significant changes. To increase productivity and ensure the country’s food self-sufficiency, modern technologies, and innovations are being actively introduced. Special attention is being paid to the cultivation of grain crops, such as wheat, to meet the country’s internal needs.

Thanks to the application of new technologies and innovations, Azerbaijan aims to significantly increase grain crop yields. Increasing production per unit area will reduce the country’s dependence on grain imports.

In an interview with News.Az, the Director of the Agricultural Innovation Center , Anar Jafarov , talked about technological innovations that contribute to increasing grain yields. Both state and private grain farms are implementing modern technologies and scientific approaches for the effective and sustainable use of land and water resources. One of the advanced technologies is Strip-till, widely used in the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, and other countries. In Azerbaijan, 2,565 hectares were sown using this technology in spring and autumn.

The implementation of Strip-till technology and mobile drip irrigation saved 27 liters of diesel fuel and 248.8 manats on other production costs per hectare. The total savings amounted to 270.4 manats compared to traditional sowing methods. The yield with the Strip-till system and mobile drip irrigation was 58 centners per hectare, which is 13.1 centners more than traditional methods.

Jafarov also noted that farmers receive state support to implement modern irrigation systems. Farmers pay only 20% of the total installation cost, 40% is covered by the state, and the remaining amount can be repaid with an interest-free loan over five years. Modern irrigation systems have been implemented on 10% of irrigated lands. The Pivot system allows for more economical use of water, increasing yield and irrigation efficiency, as well as applying fertilizers and chemicals along with water, reducing the risk of soil erosion. Thanks to this system, 100,000 tons of products were harvested from 22,000 hectares with an average yield of 5.5 tons per hectare.

Many grain farms use innovative methods to preserve soil fertility and moisture. For this purpose, smart agricultural machines equipped with CTF, RTK systems, on-board computers, and Isobus systems are used, ensuring operations are performed under GPS control. These machines have been successfully used in grain farms for several years, providing high yields of food wheat — 55 to 60 centners per hectare, which is 25-28 centners more than the national average yield.

Economic expert Akif Nasirli noted that if Azerbaijan produced 3 million tons of high-quality food wheat, the country would not need to import grain. However, most of the wheat grown is used in livestock due to the low gluten level. The introduction of new technologies and the selection of local high-yielding varieties, as well as ensuring irrigation, would allow Azerbaijan to transition from a grain importer to an exporter. The average grain yield in Azerbaijan is 27-28 centners per hectare. If the yield is increased to 40 centners, the country can fully meet its grain needs, and with a yield of 50 centners, it can export grain. To achieve this, it is necessary to grow local high-yielding varieties and ensure their irrigation.

It is also necessary to increase the capacity of existing reservoirs and build new ones. Reservoirs must be cleaned of silt and operate at full capacity. For example, in Hajigabul District, the depth of the Pirsaat reservoir is 18 meters, of which 11 meters are filled with silt. As a result, the reservoir operates at 30-40% of its capacity, and 50,000 hectares remain uncultivated due to water shortages. Solving the water supply issue is key to ensuring the country’s self-sufficiency in food wheat.

Lawmaker Rufat Guliyev stated in an interview with News.Az that Azerbaijan supplies high-quality grain from Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. “The government has a special program on this issue. In the near future, we will be able to increase yields by 10-15%. However, exceeding these figures is unlikely due to subjective and objective reasons. Increasing technical grain yields will positively impact the development of other agricultural sectors, such as livestock farming,” he said.

The lawmaker noted that surplus agricultural production positively affects the market in terms of both quality and quantity. “When the quantity of products is high, the price decreases. For example, seasonal fruits and vegetables become three to four times cheaper when they are abundant,” he said.

Abundant agricultural production is important for regional development, as it promotes the construction of processing plants and on-site product processing. Bringing agricultural products to Baku for processing creates numerous problems and increases losses. A special government program already exists, and much depends on the labor, opinions, and actions of entrepreneurs and farmers.

According to experts’ calculations, 155 thousand hectares of land liberated from occupation will be included in the overall agricultural turnover. This will increase agricultural production in the Karabakh and East Zangezur economic regions by 8%. The region will create conditions for producing 45 thousand tons of meat and over 200 thousand tons of milk, reducing dependence on imports. More than 180 thousand tons of grain will be produced in Agdam and Fizuli districts, and the areas under other crops will be expanded.

Projections indicate that by 2025, grain production in Agdam District will reach 86.6 thousand tons. The district’s land is very fertile, and Agdam is considered the sunniest region in Azerbaijan, with 273 sunny days a year. Agriculture also depends on water resources. Some farms are irrigated with water from the Sugovushan reservoir. The main water source is the large Khachinchay reservoir with a capacity of about 23 million cubic meters. This season, more water than planned has accumulated in the reservoir, and farmers are using abundant water for irrigation, eliminating the need for artesian wells. Plans also include creating 200 modern farms. On the remaining state lands, 50 modern farms will be established in land plots of 50-100 hectares. Economic activity in Agdam is already noticeable, and in the liberated territories, the first large enterprises are carrying out sowing work to prevent the fields from remaining empty.

This year, 118.1 thousand tons of grain were produced in Fizuli District. Thanks to new agrarian reforms and the introduction of innovative technologies, encouraging results can be achieved. Projections indicate that by 2025, grain production in Fizuli District will reach 130.4 thousand tons, increasing the total grain production in the country by 3.1%. Arable lands are also available in Jabrayil, Gubadli, Lachin, Kalbajar , while Khojavand. Karabakh and East Zangezur have great agrarian potential for producing food wheat. The relocation of farms to safe areas in the liberated territories has begun. Ensuring the safety of relocated farms, the timing of relocation, and the location of pastures have been communicated to the public, and explanatory work has been carried out. So far, 3,698 farmers and 22,426 auxiliary personnel have been relocated to the East Zangezur and Karabakh economic regions. Specialists believe that implementing the “smart agriculture” concept based on technological innovations in the liberated territories will eliminate the structural weaknesses of existing systems, increase productivity, optimize costs, and achieve sustainable results.

This will make a significant contribution to the development of the country’s food security. The main goal now is to clear the agricultural land of landmines and create a sustainable agricultural system based on digital technologies and best practices. Investment opportunities in agriculture in Karabakh and East Zangezur are very attractive.

Source: News AZ