Azerbaijan, which is well known in the world for its rich natural resources, has both the necessary economic and natural conditions for olive cultivation, according to both foreign and local experts.
Nariman Agayev, the Chairman of the Center for Sustainable Development Research, told local media that there is a growing interest in olive farming in Azerbaijan.
«According to our observations, only in recent years, about 500,000 seedlings of this plant were planted in Absheron. But this is not enough for the olive trees to bring considerable profit to our country. We dream of some 30 million olive trees to grow in Azerbaijan in the next 10 years. Today this figure barely reaches 10 million. Yemen can be shown as an example, which was able to increase the number of planted olive trees to 65 million in a short time, and today they are bringing good profits to the country,» he said.
Today most of the olive trees grow in the Absheron peninsula, and this is due to the fact that the soil in this region is suitable for cultivation.
Countries like Spain, the U.S., Portugal, Hungary and France are leaders in the cultivation of olive trees. In Soviet times, a small number of olive trees were planted in the Crimea, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. But now the largest share of the world olive market belongs to Spain.
Today, one can see olives and olive oil imported from former Soviet republics in the shelves of Moscow markets and Azerbaijan is a leader among these exporters.
Despite the fact that Azerbaijan does export olive products to neighboring countries, particularly to Russia, these figures could be much higher if the state and private enterprises pay more attention to the development of this agricultural sector.
Experts say that Azerbaijan could collect 2-2.5 tons of olives per hectare from about 4,000 hectares of olive trees. If the government expands the development of olive products like canned olives and olive oil, it would bring windfall profits to the state budget.
The Chairman of the Environmental Council under Azerbaijan’s Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry, Telman Zeynalov, told local media that interest in this sector of agriculture has been recently revived.
«Olive trees are planted by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and IDEA. The revival of interest does not surprise anyone, as the state can gain huge profit from this plant as this tree produces oil, canned olives, and is actively used in the production of cosmetics. In addition, the cultivation of olive trees and the processing of olives also means the creation of additional jobs,» he noted.
He also said that there are a lot of olive trees in the regions of the country, such as Shamakhi and Tovuz as well.
«Italian varieties of olive trees are well accustomed in our country. Generally, this plant is not finicky and requires no special care after the seedling takes a root and its growth starts. One tree begins to bear fruit within 3-4 years and after 10 years, it is possible to gather a rich harvest,» Zeynalov added.
Just in 2014 alone, some 1,741 hectares of olive trees were planted in Azerbaijan and 826 tons of olives were harvested in the country.
Meanwhile, Imran Jumshudov, an official at Azerbaijan’s Agriculture Ministry, said that unfortunately, there aren’t any government projects aimed at developing the production of olive oil, cosmetics and etc., «but private entrepreneurs are actively engaged in it, and the government supports these entrepreneurs in their endeavors.»
Experts say that some 4,500 manats (about $4,291) is required for the cultivation of one hectare of olive trees, while the annual income per hectare will amount to 1,500-2,000 ($,1400-1,907)manats. Thus, after accelerated development, Azerbaijan’s annual income from the export of olives and olive products would be equal to $400 million.