Azerbaijan Eyes Consistent Wheat Import
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Azerbaijan uses 2.4 million tons of Wheat annually for food, 500,000 tons for fodder, and 140,000 tons for seed, according to Mr.Firdovsi Fikretzade, Director of the Agricultural Economics Research Center under the Ministry of Agriculture. The total national Wheat demand is 3.2-3.3 million tons. Mr. Fikretzade pointed out that Wheat is grown on 650,000 hectares in Azerbaijan, the yield is 31.4 centners per hectare, and an average of 1.9 million tons of Wheat is produced yearly.
The main Wheat producing provinces are Aran (39% of total Wheat production), Shaki-Zaqatala (11%), and Yukhari-Karabakh (11%). In Azerbaijan, the arable land per capita is about 0.2 ha. According to experts, extreme heat occurs in the country’s main Wheat-growing regions in May and June, causing the plants to dry out before the grain ripening phase is complete. This both reduces yield and adversely affects product quality. In addition to climate inadequacy, there are severe water supply issues.
The electronic agricultural information system estimates that about 38 percent of total Wheat crops are on non-irrigated land, and 64 percent are formally considered irrigated. Of this 64 percent of irrigated land, 43 percent has serious water shortage issues, and 26 percent of the total area is under Wheat. So, 38 percent of the land is unirrigated, and 26 percent are areas with irrigation problems. That is 64 percent of Wheat crops are in areas that have irrigation problems or no irrigation, so the average yield is 31 to 32 centners per hectare.
Local Wheat is the source of fodder for livestock farms. Before the world Wheat market crisis in mid-2021, prices of feed Wheat produced by local farmers were higher than those of imported food-grade Wheat. For this reason, economic conditions guide farmers to produce Wheat following the country’s fodder needs. Wheat production is among the least profitable sectors of national agriculture. For example, one hectare of Wheat gives an average profit of 400-600 manat (USD235-350). For corn, this figure is 1,200-1,500 manat, for clover—1,200 manat, for sunflower—about 800-1,000 manat. This is also the reason why this sector has little investment appeal.
Azerbaijan’s Wheat Self-Sufficiency
Azerbaijan is somewhere in the middle of the list of the countries in the world by the level of Wheat self-sufficiency, having 58 percent. The number of world countries that fully meet their Wheat needs is around 30. Latvia produces six times more Wheat than its population consumes. Lithuania, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Argentina, Romania, and Australia produce 2-4 times more than local consumption.
The USA, France, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Paraguay, Pakistan, and India produce 1-2 times more than they consume. The remaining 160 countries have to meet their Wheat demand more or less at the expense of imports—countries such as Singapore, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Taiwan have almost 0 percent of self-sufficiency.
According to the data from the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, 1,026,670 tons of flour were used to produce bread and other baked goods in 2020. About 2 million tons of Wheat were produced in 2020, while the annual demand is slightly over 3.2 million. To meet the demand, the country imports about 1.3 million tons of Wheat, with the level of self-sufficiency being 59-60 percent.
As a result of the Government support measures during the period of independence, the level of Wheat self-sufficiency in Azerbaijan was raised from 30 to 60 percent. It is enough to achieve 70% self-sufficiency, which is the food security margin.
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