Baku market

Baku market

In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, seasonal fruits have seen a significant price increase compared to previous years. According to local residents, the prices of cherries in Baku markets now range from 4 to 10 manats, cherries from 4 to 5 manats, and apricots from 4 to 7 manats. Many attribute this price hike to increased exports to Russia, resulting in a shortage within Azerbaijan.

Sellers in Baku markets confirm that this year’s fruit prices have roughly doubled. "If last year cherries and cherries were sold for 2-3 manats, apricots for 3-4 manats, and peaches for 2-3 manats, this year these fruits have almost doubled in price," says a seller at the Green Market. They attribute the rise primarily to adverse weather conditions. "First there were heavy rains and winds, then terrible heat waves. Most fruits were either spoiled before ripening or scorched by the heat," the seller added.

The State Customs Committee (SCC) reported that in the first five months of this year, Azerbaijan exported 230,907 tons of fruits and vegetables worth $251.281 million. This represents a 3.45% decrease in weight compared to the same period last year. Despite this decline, fruit and vegetable exports to the Russian Federation increased by 40% in January-February 2024, indicating a significant shift in trade dynamics.

Vahid Akhmedov, a member of the Milli Majlis Committee on Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship, in an interview with Turan noted that unusual weather conditions had a negative impact on fruit production.  "Heavy rain and wind have reduced the fruit yield, impacting prices. Additionally, prices typically rise before holidays, but I expect them to drop slightly after the holidays," Ahmadov stated, referring to the national holidays of June 17-19.

Economist Natig Jafarli, in a commentary for Radio Azadlig, highlighted many factors contributing to the sharp rise in prices.  "Weather conditions have severely affected fruit volumes, with hail and rot impacting harvests. Moreover, Azerbaijan's domestic production is not substantial enough to meet both local demand and increased exports," he explained. The Russian market's high demand acts as a price driver for the domestic market.

Jafarli also emphasized the long-term challenges in the agricultural sector. "Orchards require five to seven years of investment before yielding profits. Farmers often lack the financial resources for such long-term investments, and current loan conditions do not provide viable support," he noted.

Despite reports of increased fruit production by the State Statistics Committee (SSC), which claims a 14.2% rise with 33.6 thousand tons harvested by June 1, 2024, independent economists suggest that overall inflation in Azerbaijan also plays a crucial role in the price hikes.

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