Wheat, which is "eaten" by the population, is now "fed" to cattle

According to the State Statistics Committee (SSC), in 2023, in primary weight  1828.6 thousand tons of wheat were produced. Although the Committee did not provide information on the level of wheat yield in 2023, calculations show that this year wheat yield has significantly decreased compared to the previous year.

On the eve of grain harvesting (in June 2023), the Ministry of Agriculture  reported on the area of grain crops. This message says: "This year (2023-V. M.), 1,058,398.9 hectares were sown with cereals on the territory of the country, of which 658,383.7 hectares were sown with wheat and 400,015.2 hectares with barley ([1]). Simple calculations show that this year, on average, the country's wheat yield per hectare was 27.7 c, which is 4.2 c, that is, 13.1% lower than the previous year.

It should be noted that for many years, in order to show the excess yield per hectare in the country, the SSC after harvesting reduces the amount of acreage. It seems that this year they want to show a greater yield of grain crops by reducing the amount of acreage. Back in August, the SSC reported that 2915.3 thousand tons of grain and legumes were harvested from the fields, and the yield was 32.0 c. If indeed a harvest of 2915.3 thousand tons was obtained from the fields, then in fact it should be divided not by 930.0 thousand hectares, but by 1,058,398.9 hectares. Consequently, the yield on average should not be 32.0 c per ha, but lower.

The Committee pointed out that in 2023, wheat production in primary weight was indicated by 92.5 thousand tons more than a year earlier. Studies have shown that such an increase in wheat production in 2023 became possible due to the expansion of acreage. Thus, the acreage of wheat in 2023 (658,383.7 hectares) increased by 52 thousand hectares compared to 2022 (606 thousand 338 hectares), that is, by 8.5%. While the acreage of wheat in 2023 was 8.5% more than in the previous year, production increased by only 5.3%. This also means that there will be a slight increase in wheat production in 2023. it became possible due to the expansion of the area (in an extensive way). It should also be noted that over the past few years, wheat production has declined sharply. Calculations show that in 2023 wheat production decreased by 342.9 thousand tons compared to 2019, that is, by 15.8%. And this is despite the fact that large financial resources have been allocated from the state budget this year in connection with the purpose of increasing wheat production.

In December 2022, speaking at the Milli Majlis, Prime Minister A. Asadov said that for the implementation of measures arising from the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated July 19, 2022 "On a number of measures to increase the level of self-sufficiency in food wheat," the state budget of next year (2023) provides for appropriate funds (180 million manats)." It should also be noted that in July 2022, Head of State Ilham Aliyev signed a decree "On a number of measures to increase the level of self-sufficiency in food wheat". This decree provides for the introduction of subsidies for the production of food wheat for 5 years, starting from 2023, for persons who, in accordance with the agreement concluded with the Ministry of Agriculture, have assumed obligations related to the production of food wheat and its transfer to the Agency of State Resources and Flour mills.

Zamir Dibirov, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Agency for the Development of Economic Zones (AREZ) under the Ministry of Economy, said that it is planned to increase the acreage of wheat in agricultural parks of Azerbaijan. He said: "Starting this year, persons who have assumed obligations related to the production of food wheat will receive a crop subsidy of 100 manats for each ton of wheat handed over to the State Resources Agency and Flour mills, and a sowing subsidy of 210 manats for each hectare of wheat acreage ([2]).

It should also be noted that in Appendix No. 1 to the "Rules for the Storage and Use of the State Grain Fund", approved by Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 105 of July 7, 2009, the state price for the supply of one ton of local food wheat for 2023 was set at 450 manats.

Recently,  press statement, Agriculture Minister Majnun Mammadov said that within the framework of the decree signed by President Ilham Aliyev on July 19, 2022 "On a number of measures to increase the level of self-sufficiency in food wheat", 100 thousand tons of food wheat were grown this year. According to him, this product was grown on 22 thousand hectares with pivot irrigation systems. Further , M. Mammadov said: "Next year, it is planned to grow food wheat for another 14 thousand hectares.  According to the decision, the areas where pivot irrigation systems will be installed should be increased to 150 thousand hectares. We have set this as our goal" ([3]).

From what the minister said, it can be concluded that within the framework of the decree signed by the president a year ago, 100 thousand tons of food wheat were produced this year, and 165 thousand tons will be produced next year. Unfortunately, at such a pace, Azerbaijan will not be able to meet its needs for food wheat in the near future. Because the yield of wheat grown "within the framework of the decree" is by no means higher than the yield of wheat grown outside the "framework of the decree". So, if this year the wheat yield in Hajigabul district averaged 51.8 c, then thanks to the introduction of modern irrigation systems organized by the state, large farms, agricultural parks, which received crop subsidies of 100 manats per 1 ton of wheat and sowing subsidies of 210 manats per hectare of wheat acreage, collected a total of 45.4 kg of harvest.

It should also be noted that, although the SCC indicated an increase in wheat production by 92.5 thousand tons over the 9 months of this year, wheat imports in physical weight increased by 48.1 thousand tons over the same period of this year.

The purpose and use of hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat is questionable

26.2% of the food wheat used by the population so far for food purposes is already used as feed wheat. So, starting from 2020, the SSC began to gradually reduce the volume of wheat consumed by the population. The Committee placed 261.2 thousand tons of wheat, which it placed in 2021 in the column "Feed for livestock and poultry" of the table "Stocks and use of wheat", and 104.4 thousand tons — in the column "Production of compound feeds".  If in 2020 a total of 508.1 thousand tons of wheat were used for the production of feed for cattle, poultry and compound feeds, then in 2021 the volume of wheat used for these purposes increased by 77.8% to 903.9 thousand tons, and in 2022 - by 82% to 925.2 thousand tons.

Imagine that in 2022, compared with 2019, both wheat production (423.3 thousand tons) and wheat imports (292 thousand tons) decreased. And that year Azerbaijan's demand for wheat was satisfied. The question arises: Where did 715.3 thousand tons of wheat suddenly disappear for the year? It is clear that 423.3 thousand tons of wheat were not produced, and 292 thousand tons were not imported into the country. But how was Azerbaijan able to satisfy its need for food wheat that year?

In 2022, the SSC reduced the volume of wheat used by the population for food production by 590.2 thousand tons compared to 2019 and by 664.7 thousand tons compared to 2020.. Imagine that the reduction of wheat used for food production by 664.7 thousand tons per year is about a third of the total wheat consumption for the year. That is, in 2022, the population consumed 33% less wheat than in 2020..

In what case can the volume of wheat used by the population for food production decrease? The amount of wheat used for food production may decrease if the population and the number of tourists visiting the country decrease. However, this did not happen in Azerbaijan. On the contrary, both the population and the number of tourists coming to the country have increased. Our research has shown that in 2022, compared to 2020, The population of the country has increased by 0.9% (89.3 thousand people), and the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan has more than doubled.

In what case can the volume of wheat used for livestock and poultry feed increase? This happens when there is a significant increase in the number of livestock and poultry. That didn't happen either. On the contrary, there has been a serious reduction in the number of cattle and poultry in the country. In Azerbaijan, in 2022, the number of cattle decreased by 32.6 thousand heads compared to 2020, sheep and goats - by 338 thousand heads, poultry - by 380.9 thousand heads, pigs - by 800 heads, horses - by 3.8 thousand heads, donkeys - by 3.4 thousand heads.

Of course, in animal husbandry, more wheat (fodder) can be used as feed to increase productivity. In this case, there should be an increase in the production of livestock products (especially meat and eggs). If indeed in 2021, compared with 2020, the volume of wheat used in animal husbandry exceeded 395.8 thousand tons, then this year meat production should have increased by 56.5 thousand tons. Or there should have been a serious increase in egg production.  The conducted studies have shown that despite the increase in 2021 meat production increased by 11.5 thousand tons compared to the previous year, there was not an increase in egg production, but a decrease - by 67.3 million pieces. That is, there was no significant increase in the production of livestock products. Studies of meat production carried out over the past 5 years have shown that the increase in production compared to the previous year amounted to 9.2 thousand tons in 2018, 9.6 thousand tons in 2019 compared to 2018, 10.2 thousand tons in 2020 compared to the previous year, 11.5 thousand tons in 2021, in 2022 – 10.6 thousand tons .  Although in 2022 cattle were "fed wheat" more than in 2021, the growth rate of meat production decreased compared to the previous year.

It should be noted that in 2022 the price of wheat rose on the world market to the highest level in the last 15 years. How could it happen that at a time when wheat was imported to Azerbaijan from abroad for its weight in gold, hundreds of thousands of tons of food wheat in the country were not used as food, but were fed to cattle?! All this makes one think that the country did not produce such a quantity of wheat, neither the population nor the cattle consumed it... It would be nice if the SSC and the government commented on this issue. The question is extremely serious.

Table 1. Use of wheat, in ta

 20182019202020212022
Balance for the beginning of the year829 824706 931864 010567 392325 665
Production1 991 6832 114 1391 818 6651 837 1881 690 832
Import1 080 9061 584 9981 365 1001 148 1011 292 996
Total stock3 902 4134 406 0684 047 7753 552 6813 309 493
For seeds147 971142 181133 962132 703146999
For livestock and poultry feed483 283545 657501 285762 566765451
For food production2 211 3792 459 3542 533 9322 062 3091869150
        Including:     
For the production of flour and cereals2 147 1712 386 8592 467 3322 004 6201820746
For the production of alcohol5 3676 0595 5664 12137170
For beer production3641383331
For the production of other food products58 80566 39560 99653 53511203
Personal consumer fund of the population81 97987 53887 24467 39832191
For the production of non-food products38 30343 24639 730143 421159813
        Including:     
For the production of mixed feed35 53740 12336 860141 325159813
For starch production41346642984-
For the production of other non-food products2 3532 6572 4412 012-
Export-1 500--23
Losses232 567262 582184 23058 61954607
Balance for the end of the year706 931864 010567 392325 665281259
Total used3 902 4134 406 0684 047 7753 552 6813 309 493

 


[1] https://agro.gov.az/az/news/190623

[2] https://report.az/ask/azerbaycandaki-aqroparklarda-bugda-ekini-saheleri-artirilacaq/

[3] https://report.az/ask/azerbaycanda-bu-il-pivot-suvarma-sistemleri-ile-100-min-ton-erzaqliq-bugda-yetisdirilib/

 

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