Mercy Corps begins program to assist farmers in rural Azerbaijan

News and Press Release
Originally published
Three-year program aims to increase profitability of Azeri Livestock
BAKU, Azerbaijan - Mercy Corps has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement a three-year business services project. The project will support over 4,000 animal breeders and poultry producers in the two southern Azerbaijan regions: Masally and Lankaran. Activities are designed to build capacity of 54 local veterinarians and develop farmer clusters in remote villages to ease access to the veterinary and production advice services.

A key constraint for these farmers is high production costs due to livestock mortality, low breeding rates, and inability to meet State Disease Control Department standards.

Over time the project aims to improve profitability for clusters of rural poor and women farmers by increasing access to a network of trained vet and production advice services providers. Mercy Corps expects that as a result of the project activities rural livestock and poultry producers will experience a 20-50 percent increase in the profitability. This will be achieved due to effective animal diseases preventive measures, modified breeding and feeding practices.

The Masally and Lankaran regions were selected for several reasons. First, it is an area with crucial economic potential particularly in the agricultural sector. Second, it is one of the most isolated areas in the country with up to 50 percent of the villages in remote locations.

"This award demonstrates the commitment of the United States to the need for business development in Azerbaijan," said the Project Director Kamran Abdullayev. "Our program is based on best practices worldwide and focused on innovations that advance the field of business services. We look forward to this new challenge to help foster a developed Azerbaijan."

Mercy Corps is an international relief and development agency that exists to alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. The agency launched its activities in Azerbaijan in early 1997 with a shelter program for the refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In 1998 USAID awarded $45 million to Mercy Corps for the six-year Azerbaijan Humanitarian Assistance Program (AHAP).

Under the AHAP, Mercy Corps has provided grants for community based projects in primary health care, credit and business development services and community development in over 23 cities and rayons of Azerbaijan. In 2001 Mercy Corps also began implementation of a USAID funded Child Survival Project in Masalli, Yardimli and Lerik.

Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided more than $640 million in aid to 74 nations. The agency currently reaches more than 5 million people in over 30 countries. More than 91 percent of the Mercy Corps' resources are allocated to programs that help those in need.