Aran beef and milk – giving Azerbaijani consumers what they want

The Aran region of Azerbaijan is famous for its beef and dairy products.
This project of the SDC is developing links between farmers in Aran and veterinarians, cattle fodders suppliers, dairy producers, and meat wholesalers with the aim of achieving a sustainable and thriving market for Aran’s products, which will benefit 10,000 households (50,000 people) in 30 villages.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
SME development
Agricultural development
15.09.2010 - 31.10.2013
CHF 2'145'000

The main goal of the project“Facilitating Access to Animal Ressources and Markets” is to increase incomes of smallholder farmers by encouraging them to focus on produce (beef and milk) for which it is known there is a good market. To help them achieve this, the project facilitates the development of sustainable partnerships between farmers, veterinarians, and meat and dairy wholesalers and processors. Healthy cattle mean more meat.

A first key task is to improve the quality of the cattle fodder. Farmers are being supported to grow more alfalfa, and producers of concentrated cattle fodder have been introduced to the region, in order to develop partnerships with local farmers. Adjusting the
cattle diet by including some concentrated fodder is already increasing the meat yield on some beneficiary farms.

A second key step is to ensure that farmers have access to affordable veterinary services. The project is working with veterinarians to improve their organisation and capacity, while at the same time providing information to farmers about the benefits the veterinary service can offer. The aim is to increase the number of farmers regularly using and paying for veterinary services.

The Swiss aid organization HEKS is implementing the project, working together with a local partner, the "Agro Information Centre" (AIM). Since 90 percent of farmers live in the districts of beef cattle breeding, the emphasis is on the expansion of services in the livestock industry: Professionalization of veterinarians, advice on productive breeding, improvement of artificial insemination, expansion of food production, more quality roughage, desalinated water for the cattle, and training of farmers by dairies.

A farmer is telling
Ilham Ibrahimov is from a family of cattle farmers; his father was a farmer, and Ilham himself has, in his career, owned eight cows. But despite the fact that he has been in the cattle business since he was a young man, Ilham admits that the issue of profit and loss never really played a big role in his calculations. “I have three head of cattle now,” he explains, “and I sold one of them recently. But in the past I never really worked out how much I earned from selling an animal after fattening it. But I certainly know that when I did decide to fatten up a calf for selling, the process would take five or six months before the animal was ready to take to market.”

In December 2011 Ilham became aware of SDC’s project. “The project people came to our village to talk to us about the advantages of feeding our cattle concentrated fodder,” he remembers. “And they introduced us to a fodder supplier.” Since then Ilham has begun using concentrated fodder on his farm, and he has already noticed the difference.
Ilham is now encouraging his fellow farmers to try concentrated fodder too. “For me it has meant less work, less physical labour, less cost, and the whole process took less time.”