Currently special attention paid to the organic agriculture in the world stimulates the expansion of the organic agriculture movement in Azerbaijan as well. In August 2008, Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev signed into law The Organic Law, largely due to the efforts of the GABA, the pioneer organization in Azerbaijan promoting organic agriculture – having initially designed, drafted and lobbied for this legislation.
GABA activities are primarily based in the west, northwest and central regions with land area that covers almost half of the republic and 50 per cent of the agricultural products are from these regions. Although GABA operates in the areas of the northwest, central and western regions of Azerbaijan, GABA has a broader strategy to include all of Azerbaijan in its efforts to convert conventional farming to organic farming.
Currently, there are more than a million people engaged in agriculture, calculated to be about 40 per cent of the working population agriculture and 20,5 per cent of them are women.
Organic agriculture was in response to environmental issues as well as the Azerbaijani farmers still suffering from the reorientation and restructuring process as the result of the conversion of the land from the collective farms to individually owned land in 1996. Access to farm resources especially fertilizers, pesticides, and veterinary products were difficult to obtain or expensive. Development of organic agriculture is seen as an option for Azerbaijan farmers to develop a sustainable agriculture production system in an environmentally supportive and economically sound way.
Since 2000, more than 2000 farmers have been trained and have moved from conventional farming to organic farming and almost 400 have advanced to the stage of applying for organic certification of their products. The last few years were very productive for GABA’s organic initiative. Thus GABA implemented numerous projects in organic agriculture, as well as initiated the opening of the Organic Agriculture field of study at the Azerbaijan State Agrarian University, the first Organic Certification Body in the country “AZEKOSERT”, and “Ecological monitoring of soil and environment” laboratory.
Currently in Azerbaijan, according to statistics provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 20.000 hectares are used for organic production with a total number of 332 farmers and constitutes 3 thousand 105 hectares of agricultural land. Two-hundred hectares are used for leguminous plants, 206 hectares for vegetables, as well as 755 hectares for orchards.