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Expanding economic development to rural areas is a top priority for Azerbaijan, as it works to diversify the national economy and reduce dependence on oil. One of the first impediments to be tackled is excessive land fragmentation and small farm sizes.
A new project launched here today by FAO will help Azerbaijan develop a national strategy for land consolidation, and work with the Ministry of Agriculture and other national institutions to improve their knowledge and capacity for carrying out modern land consolidation projects. Government staff will gain hands-on experience by working with FAO experts to implement voluntary land consolidation in a selected pilot area of the country.
FAO land tenure officer Morten Hartvigsen presented the project at an inception workshop attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and other institutions.
“In order to achieve the project goals,” Hartvigsen said, “FAO is mobilizing a versatile team of experts in land tenure, land law, land registration, rural development, and gender issues.”
A project office will be established on the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture, with national and local consultants equipped with computers and other necessary material. Government staff will be involved in training workshops and seminars where the new land consolidation strategy will be developed.
Community workshops are also planned, where local residents will help elaborate desired land parcel exchanges and purchases and participate in community development planning.
“There is a significant body of knowledge and experience in land consolidation,” said Hartvigsen, who gave an overview of FAO’s experiences with land consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe.
The $362,000 project, financed by FAO is expected to run for two years. It responds to a specific request for assistance from national government, and is included in the FAO Country Programming Framework with Azerbaijan. It also falls under the objectives of FAO’s Regional Initiative on Empowering Smallholders and Family Farms for Improved Rural Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction.
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