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 Report - Agro Information Centre of Azerbaijan (DEA)

 Report date: 31.08.2000

AIM
Agro Information Centre of Azerbaijan

(Diakonie Project Nr.: K-AZE-9804-0001)

Fazil Jafarov, Yegana Guliyeva, and Roland Kilian Schlott

AIM is supported by
Evangelische Zentralstelle fr Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (EZE), Bonn, Germany
Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH), Stuttgart, Germany
Dienste in bersee (D), Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany

1 Results of the reporting period

1.1 Improvement of knowledge and skills of IDPs and local farmers on agriculture

1.1.1 Extension and group development

Within the reporting period and according to seasonal farming activities the following topics have been discussed:

  • Soil preparation and field hygiene
  • Summer ploughing and usefulness of manure application
  • Crop rotation and underlying phytosanitary reasons
  • Cultivation of autumn vegetables (cucumber, cabbage, tomato, beans).
  • Diseases and pests on vegetables (white rot, thrips, caterpillar, etc) and their prevention methods with special emphasis on natural methods, such as treatment with wood-worm brew
  • Analysis of results regarding vegetable cultivation
  • Economic profitability of alfalfa seed production (grain)
  • Demonstration: woodworm solution against cabbage thrips and its larvae
  • Seed treatment
  • Sowing of autumn cereals
  • Sowing of green vegetables
  • Needs assessment: analysis of crop productivity
  • Establish relations with the Electricity department and Municipality Head
  • Planting of autumn potato

Our veterinarian, Mr. lvsat Abdulov, conducted seminars on animal husbandry in a number of groups. Topic of the seminars: "Diseases in cattle, sheep and poultry; their causes, recognition, treatment and prevention methods". After discussions, the groups conducted practical work and demonstrations. These workshops attracted a large number of attendees, irrespective of whether or not they are members of our groups, and were followed with great interest.

1.1.2 Village based extensionists

With our village extension team we continued our regular schedule of exchange of field experience among trainees of different locations. According to established practise our coaches Yashar Solmaz, and Fazil conducted field observation of extension talks to which they invited extensionists from other locations. Typically, after a morning in the field, the group of extensionists gather in an office to discuss and to analyse the extension talk and to evaluate the performance of village extensionists, thereby guided by the set of evaluation questions described in the coaching manual. This evaluation discussion forms the basis for the visualisation of the evaluation result in the form of an evaluation wheel with four axes. This tool is much appreciated since it gives an immediate overview of the strengths and weaknesses in the work of the individual agent and, reciprocally, shows the areas were improvement is desirable. The concept of peer-evaluation, implemented within our team, has begun to attract the attention of other organisations, which asked us to provide coaching trainings for their field agents. Another result of our observations is that our village extensionists prefer to conduct extension talks on an individual basis and have difficulties with the implementation of group discussions. We therefore decided to provide inputs and coaching on group discussion methods.

During the reporting period we continued our regular fortnightly workshop schedule with and for village based extension staff.

The following were the main objectives of our September workshops:

  • Improvement of communication skills of the extension staff
  • Deepening the knowledge of extension methods, and
  • upgrading of technical knowledge on crop cultivation and animal husbandry

In October, and in line with village-based extensionists’ expressed interests, we provided 2 training days where all staff is assembled in our head-offices in Agjabedi. The following topics were discussed in the sessions:

  • Exchanging of ideas on field experiences
  • Module on problem analyses and co-operation: "Broken Squares" (as described in the AIM-Coaching Manual)
  • How to derive benefit from local farmers’ experiences to improve village based extension agents’ skills and knowledge.

In addition, we have invited N. Nasibov, a post-graduate student at the Azerbaijan Crop-Farming Institute. He conducted a seminar on farming features of autumn cereals, which are adapted to the regional conditions of our Republic. Those in attendance received this workshop with great interest and they would like such seminars to be continued in the future.

AIM had initiated local coaching groups (8) of village-based extension agents in summer (August) to provide a forum for mutual support and exchange between the trainees. These coaching groups are very active and conduct regular discussions on farmer group establishment, topics of crop farming, animal husbandry and farm economics in their own offices (provided, in most cases by local authorities) every Friday.

1.2 Seminars for field and key staff of other organisations

During the reporting period we conceived, prepared and implemented two workshops for current and prospective staff of Children’s Aid Direct (CAD).

These were:

  1. 3-day workshop with and for key staff of CAD Mingechevir. Topics dealt with included advanced communication skills and co-operation/teambuilding.
  2. 3-day workshop with CAD field staff. Topics included problem-solving cycle, objectives and concept of (agricultural) extension as well as practical work in agent-client contact situations.

The workshops were very interesting and the attendees actively participated in them. Our trainers are looking forward to further collaboration with CAD.

1.3 Co-operation with regional and national authorities and with national and international NGOs

Following an exchange of argumentative notes between country representative and head-offices of Diakonie Emergency Aid by the intermediary of the backstopper Dr. Kotschi, as well as respecting the recommendations of the Referent for Co-operation of the German Embassy in Baku (Mr. von Heynitz), it has been concluded, that the country office of DEA will continue to support AIM in representational aspects and through the lease of capital equipment after the withdrawal of financial assistance to AIM, now scheduled for the end of December 2000.

In October a meeting with Professor Amin Babayev of the Ganja Agro-Business Association (GABA) a national NGO, took place, with the objective to demarcate possible areas of collaboration in our common objective to further the rural sector. A draft version of a Memorandum of Understanding between AIM and GABA has been discussed.

Of the group of international NGOs, working in the intervention zone of AIM, the following have been visited with the aim to maintain and intensify working relations and information flow:

  • ADRA - (Agjabedi) programme co-ordinators. This organisation is engaged in food distribution to IDPs and SVGs, as well as in the distribution of small mobile greenhouses. Another activity is a vocational training
  • CHF - (Cooperative Housing Foundation) (Imishli) project co-ordinator and information officer visited us in the Agjabedi head offices to get informed on their activities in six southern and central regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
  • IRC - (Imishli). We visited the community development programme manager of this organisation with the aim to enter a collaboration on community mobilisation and credit activities implemented by IRC in our groups. The programme is, however, in its infancy and we will closely monitor the developments in the next few weeks.
  • ACH - (Accin Contra el Hambre) (Tbilisi). This organisation is planning to implement a programme of assistance to IDP farmers in the regions of Agjabedi and Beylagan. AIM has proposed to deliver the extension component and by the end of the reporting period we were informed that funding had been secured for the programme.

During the reporting period, Ms. Caroline Kruckow, desk-officer for South East European and Caucasian countries at the Protestant Association for Co-operation in Development (EZE), visited Azerbaijan and especially AIM. Her objective was to thoroughly familiarise herself with the actual activities and actors, as well as the concept and visions of this young local NGO in the wake of the conclusion of a comprehensive partnership agreement between AIM and EZE for the next two years (2001-2002).

1.4 Miscellaneous

A report about AIMs activities was published in the national newspaper 525 and on the morning information programme of the national television broadcaster (AzTV).

AIM’s monthly report of August was translated and distributed to Executive Committees of Agjabedi and Beylagan as well as to the Cabinet of Ministers in Baku.



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