Official Data on Agricultural Growth Incorrect, Expert

Baku / 08/08/19 / Turan: Official data on agricultural production growth do not correspond to reality, Vahid Maharramli, head of the NGO Support for Agrarian Reforms, said in an interview with the Azerbaijani Voice of America service.

Agricultural production statistics in Azerbaijan are maintained by various structures: the State Statistics Committee and the Agrarian Development Centers under the Ministry of Agriculture. However, both structures keep statistics formally, Maharramli believes.

Since 2015, numbers are called that are not adequate for the actual production of agricultural products. The expert associates the inflated figures with the distribution of subsidies.

Agricultural areas are intentionally indicated more in order to receive more subsidies and to justify the increase in the staff of local units of the Ministry of Agriculture. To justify these costs, they overstate the production data.

However, if production increased, then prices should have fallen. So, the head of state said that grain production, compared with last year, increased by 40%. However, the price of grain has doubled. While last year 1 kg of grain cost 22 gapiks, then it cots 45 gapiks this year. If the production increased, such a picture could not be observed.

Last year, an increase in grain production by 360 thousand tons was announced. In this case, imports should have been reduced. What happened? At the beginning of the year, flour rose in price, grain imports grew by 40 thousand tons, and grain doubled in price, continued Maharramli.

According to official figures, today Azerbaijan should have 4.5 million grain. However, the country does not have so many storage facilities.

"Declaring overstated figures create the appearance of achievement. However, the reality is different. In fact, there is a serious lag in grain production, as evidenced by local monitoring.

Wild oats are widespread this year, which caused many fires and it was impossible to harvest wheat and barley from these territories," Maharramli said.

There was a clear increase in vegetables. So, tomatoes are 2 times higher than last year. Potatoes and other vegetables went up in spite of rising imports.

Agrarian reforms should not be declarative in nature. Complex measures are needed: small plots should be combined into large farms. It is necessary to solve the problems of irrigation, providing farms with equipment. Due to a lack of equipment, arable, sowing and harvesting operations are carried out of time. This should not be done by the state, but by private business.

Reclamation and Water Resources JSC does not cope with its functions. The Ministry of Agriculture should only determine state policy, and not interfere in production, the expert believes. -06D-

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