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UN-backed project to help thousands of rural poor in Azerbaijan

UN-backed project to help thousands of rural poor in Azerbaijan

More than 22,000 poor households in north-western Azerbaijan are expected to benefit from a new United Nations-backed scheme to strengthen local irrigation systems, improve farming methods and widen access to rural finance.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing a loan of $17 million to finance the project, worth over $32 million, under an agreement with the Azerbaijani Government.

The project is focused on four districts in the northwest – Agstafa, Gazakh, Shamkir and Tovuz – according to a press statement released by IFAD today.

IFAD's country programme manager for Azerbaijan, Abdallah Rahman, said the project aims to boost the production, productivity and competitiveness of smallholders.

“The project will enhance the capability and self-reliance of communities to look after their own affairs and plan and implement their own development initiatives more effectively,” Mr. Rahman said.

Households in north-western Azerbaijan depend heavily on irrigated agriculture but the irrigation systems are currently in decline because of lack of maintenance, neglect and a shortage of funds.

The project will rehabilitate the dilapidated infrastructure and will also help farmers involved in both crops and livestock diversify their incomes and have greater access to finance.