The referenced project has been launched by the agreement of the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan, European Union and FAO. For achieving the objectives of the project, one of the milestones is to get the full picture of the state of the agricultural advisory services (AAS) in the country based on the results of the survey and assessment. This activity started in June 2020, aiming to cover five districts in the country identified by the country authorities. In July 2020, the assessment survey is planned to be conducted for the farmers, service providers, and other stakeholders in Guba, Khachmaz, and Lankaran regions.
The assessment surveys have already conducted in Samukh, Kurdamir, and Ismayilli districts in June 2020 with the involvement of the volunteers/surveyors in the regions.
Mr. Fariz Alakbarov, the Local Short Term Consultant of the project, organized a training program for the volunteers and selected the potential surveyors among the trained volunteers through interviewing in the target regions. The purpose of the training was to explain to them the methodology of the interviews and surveys and increase their professionalism for the collection of accurate information and to start the survey on the assessment for the farmers, service providers and other stakeholders according to the objective to see the problems of the agricultural advisory services in Azerbaijan.
Due to the quarantine restrictions and limits on movements inside the country, it has been decided that Mr. Alakbarov conducts assessment training, interviews with the volunteers/surveyors, and farmers through the online Zoom Programme in those restricted regions. In addition, the discussion WhatsApp groups have been set up for answers to the frequently asked questions and clarifications needed during the survey.
With the support of the Agrarian Science and Innovation Centre (ASIC) under the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan, and in close cooperation with their regional branches as well as with SADCs the participants involved in the survey have been selected. Accordingly, they have been informed about the project structure, main objectives of the assignment, the importance of the extension services, methods of the data collection, recommended practices to become good interviewer/surveyors, their responsibility regarding the assignment, a methodology to fill the questionnaires for extension providers and producers.
The ongoing surveys show that there is a need for the improvement of the agricultural advisory services in Azerbaijan to build a strong mechanism for receiving inquires, and feedback of the target groups for further development. The preliminary results of the survey demonstrate the necessity to improve the links between public and private sectors, raise the awareness on the AAS services among farmers in particular in remotes areas, strengthen the cooperation of SADCs with all types of extension providers. In addition, the FAO AZE office in close cooperation with the providers’ regular support and help to the conduction of the survey in spite of specific challenging conditions raise by the COVID -19.
The achieved results will show the need for extension services for the farmers and improvement necessities of the AAS sector in Azerbaijan for reliable access by farmers to quality services. The report will show the development mechanism for the regulation of the relations between extension providers and clients. More detailed information about the current situation of the AAS sector will be described in the country assessment report.