Baku is hosting the 5th meeting of high-level agriculture experts from member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization. Attending the event are specialists from the Staff and subordinate organisations of the Agriculture Ministry of the Azerbaijani Republic, specialists from the agriculture ministries of member countries and representatives of relevant ECO organisations, representatives of the Azerbaijan representative office of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), and officials from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank.
Firdovsi Fikretzade, the director of the Agrarian Research Center of the Agriculture Ministry, who chairs the 5th meeting of high-level agriculture experts from member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization, presented the agenda. Fikretzade stressed that ECO countries have great potential for cooperation in the agricultural sector. He said that international agricultural trade among ECO member countries stands at 96 billion dollars, which is 5.5 per cent of international trade. The chairman of the meeting expressed confidence that important decisions would be made to further expand relations among member countries.
Speaking next, Deputy Agriculture Minister Elchin Zeynalov said that as a result of Mr President Ilham Aliyev's policies, the agrarian sector, like other sectors of the economy, had entered a qualitatively new phase of development: "New economic relations have formed in the agrarian sector, and some of the factors that have lately contributed to the development of this sector are the formation of the governing organisation for this sector in line with the requirements of the time, improvement in state support policy, and the implementation of work to stimulate an increase in the competitiveness of the output. Consequently, as a result of large-scale agrarian reform implemented in Azerbaijan, the agricultural growth rate has become sustainable and the dynamic development trend has continued this year as well. During the first nine months of 2019, agriculture grew 7.1 per cent compared to the same period last year, and the share of the agrarian sector in GDP reached 6.2 per cent."
The deputy minister added that it is necessary to form international cooperation for all phases of food security in order to achieve sustainable development goals, especially goals set in the field of agriculture: "As you know, ECO member countries constantly cooperate both on a bilateral level and within the framework of international organisations. The Economic Cooperation Organization is an important platform for member countries to develop the scientific research system, exchange best practices, transfer modern technologies and methodologies, implement joint research projects, and share scientific achievements, and for other kinds of cooperation."
Memduh Unal, director for agriculture and industry at the Secretariat of the Economic Cooperation Organization, delivered a speech at the event. He said that Azerbaijan successfully continues work to develop its non-oil sector: "Azerbaijan has been the fastest-developing economy among ECO countries in the past 15 years. At the same time, Azerbaijan makes valuable contribution to the development of economic relations among member countries of the organisation."
An exchange of views took place at the event regarding economic relations among member countries of the organization, especially regarding cooperation in the field of agriculture. It was noted that there is great potential for an increase in productivity in the field of agriculture in ECO countries and for expansion of trade among the countries.
Afterward, the chairman was elected and the agenda was approved for the 5th meeting of the group of high-level agriculture experts from ECO member countries. The event discussed ways of implementing the agriculture-related part of ECO-Vision 2025. The event also heard the Secretariat's Progress Report on agriculture and food security activities carried out since the 5th meeting of ECO member countries' agriculture ministers. Experts from ECO member countries also widely discussed and coordinated other issues included in the agenda. In addition, the draft agenda of the 6th meeting of agriculture ministers was discussed and adopted.
The 6th meeting of the agriculture ministers of member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization will start tomorrow. The agriculture ministers from member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization, senior officials and members of staff from the organization's secretariat, and agrarian experts will attend the meeting.
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