Farmers demand market access: frustration mounts over limited options and spoiled crops

Photo: Smolll/Shutterstock

“We should take our products to the Fruit Market and sell them at the price dictated by them”

Farmers from Azerbaijani regions complain they cannot sell their products directly to Baku markets. They have to throw away rotten and spoiled products and this time they are posting on their social networks that “no one thinks why the peasant throws away the crops he has cultivated with great pain.”

Elman Nasibov, a farmer from Khachmaz, told Meydan TV that, due to the rainy weather in the last few weeks, the trees in the gardens were damaged and the fruits were spoiled.

The farmer says that in the past years, cherries were exported to Russian markets, and they were sold well every June. Now the prices are not cost-effective:

“There are storage costs, and wages have also increased. Not to mention other expenses. Moreover, food has become more expensive. They don’t think that the farmer also supports his family, his only source of income is the crop he plants. If there is no profit, it is not worth the trouble.”

Farmers from Masalli also say that they sell potatoes below the cost price. According to them, the price of the products purchased from local places increases several times until they reach Baku markets.

“We should take the product to the Fruit market and sell it at the price dictated by them. In other markets, you have to pay a fee of up to 80 AZN. If you take into account the cost of accommodation, food and drink, and travel, the price is not affordable. Village-to-city fairs are not held every day, and the number of places is limited,” said the farmer, who did not want to be named because he works in the municipality.

Vahid Muharramli
Vahid Muharramli. Photo: Meydan TV

Agricultural expert Vahid Maharramli told MeydanTV that the Fruit Market is the only market in Azerbaijan, configuring a monopoly situation:

“Azerbaijan is not a small country in terms of its population. Almost half of the population settled in Baku. Why should there be only one wholesale center in Baku? There should be at least 4-5 markets in Baku so that the farmer has a choice and can sell his product at a price that suits him. The government should take into account that if the farmer does not get an income from the products he produces, the production will not be interesting,” Maharramov said.

The expert believes that farmers should have access to the market, and the monopoly on import, export, and sale in the market should be eliminated. This can only be possible after creating a competitive environment:

“Maintaining the manufactured product is a very important issue. There are a large number of farmers, who do not have access to cold storage, and the produce is left behind and spoils. The government can solve these problems. The Ministry of Agriculture has more than a thousand employees, including its subordinate institutions. What is their job, why don’t they show a way out of the problem?”

Vahid Maharramli states that because the problem is not solved at the government level, local products are spoiled, instead they fill them with imports:

“40 percent of washed potatoes go to waste. With this rate, we can cover our own potato needs for several months. The government should think about it.”

It was found out by a journalist investigation that Meyveli Bazar belongs to the family of the former Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov, though no further information was made public.

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