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The online round table meeting on the topic of role of innovative technologies in agricultural sector with participation of local stakeholders
on January 14, 2021 at 12-00 Baku time.

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Azerbaijan Technical University heldthe second online round table meeting on the topic of role of innovative technologies in agricultural sector with participation of local stakeholders on January 14, 2021 at 12-00 Baku time. The objective of holding the meeting was to introduce UNICLAD project, its components and tasks, main outcomes and to promote cluster experience among the local stakeholders to ensure their future engagement in project implementation activities, to study existing EU cluster experience and lessons learned in the course of their evolution.  Along with others, recent developments, ongoing trends and level of deployment of innovative agricultural technologies in the sector were one of the objective of holding the meeting.

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SubhanNamazov, vice-rector for International Relations, provided welcoming speech and introduced theprojectstakeholders andparticipants from the  University. He also greeted partners from the Spain and thanked them for their participation and support in sharing EU cluster experience  and lessons learned in this road. Then he stated main objectives of the project and importance of identifying areas of collaboration and focusing on them within the project work. He also mentioned ofnovation of cluster experience for Azerbaijan which was one of three target countries within the project.  He also stressed therole of local Universities including AzTUand Azerbaijan State Agrarian  Universitywithin the project in establishment of  expertise centerswhich would become foundation of future clusters and perform coordination  among the incumbents of supply chain and align their overall objectives. He also emphasized importance of active participation of master and PhD students from both Universities in the similar project events and meetings as they would be closely involved in operation of expertise centers, development of pilot project and other project activities. They would become part of students mobilitytasks and be provided opportunity to study the cluster experience in EU countries and develop their research works.

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Zafar Hasanov, local representative of Erasmus plus office greeted participants of the meeting and stressed importance of similar capacity building project, as well as this project for building necessary precondition for the future clusters in Azerbaijan and role of Universities in this important task. He recommended the project partners to provide focus not only implementation of the activities but also sustainability of set project objectives.

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Ms. Gema Prieto, representative of the Vitartis Food Industry Cluster in Castilla y León, Spain   shared their cluster experience in three directions: structure and evolution, legal frame and activities. He provided detailed information on the mentioned three directions at the national and regional level including structure and organization of the cluster, legal framework and funding sources, services provided by them as well as their role asthecoordinator and the area of collaboration with members and support. She also mentioned promotional and marketing activities organized by the cluster which includedpre -scheduled one to one business meetings, workshops, conferences and B2B events other business communication means.  Moreover, she mentioned about the established working groupswithin the clusters for innovations, internationalization, 4.0 industry, and corporate social responsibility. They also played active role in sharing related project calls among the members, provided necessary support in finding project partners and supported partners in alignment of their interests in project objectives.

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Anar Jafarov, head of department for Administering Agrarian Innovation Policy at Agrarian Science and Innovation Centerdelivered the presentation on the topic of present deployment areas of innovative technologies in agro sector and opportunities and challenges for their deployment.

First of all, he mentioned that certain activities were being carried out in establishment of clusters in agricultural sector of Azerbaijan which was set as one of the key task by Strategical Roadmap in Agricultural sector. Presently, the form of its establishment, the areas and sectors of their operation, regionswere being discussed and determined.  He also noted that presently established structures in certain agricultural sectors like as cocoon were similar to the operation of clustersbut they need to have more comprehensive approach by aligning operation and accessibility of education and research institutions as well.

Moreover, he provided some information on ongoing developmentsin agricultural sector andstated on transfer from extension agriculture to intensive agriculture which obligated the incumbents to eliminate the areas of waste activities and inefficiencies due the scarcity of resources in the country. Previous domination of plant growing would be more likely replaced with cattle breeding due the liberation of occupied territories of Azerbaijan which were traditionally specialized in cattle breeding.

He also mentioned that specific challenges lived in adoption of innovations by small scale farmers. Whether innovative technologies or innovative techniques in cultivation or irrigation, they needed to be facilitated and trained for their deployment and adoption. Incremental approach was deployed in adoption of innovations in the agricultural sector in relation to small farmers. Otherwise, deeper gaps were be inevitable among  incumbents i.e. service provider and farmers which ended with reduced communications and barriers.

But on the contrary, large farmers were open to deployment of the most recent innovative techhnologies and techniques with the purpose of maximazing their benefits. Production of the innovative technologies within the country like Azerbaijan is not beneficial as the scale of the territory did not allow to maximize the  benefits so technology transfer was the mostly preferred option for Azebaijan by the Government.

He also stressed importance of agricultural subsides  provided by the Government to simulate certain agricultural areas in certain regions, as well as these subsides were provided forprocurement of necessary tools and machinery. In this case 40% of the cost were rembursed at the account of government subsidies.

Electronic agricultural information system was recently deployed technology by them which allowed to collect the neccesary data of the farmers and use the data for various purposes as well as optimization of land resources. Moreover, tracking technologes deployed in the sector allow to develop the certain agricultural sector in certain areas and to come up investors with business offers by including them necessary data pertinent to the areas.

Recently applied agricultural insurance in suger beet would serve to incentivize growth of the sector and would be broadly used in other areas of the agriculture.

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Subhan Namazov delivered the presentation on recent trends in deployment of innovative technologies in agro sector and their perspective development. First of all, he referenced the legal framework in this area which stimulate and put commitment over the sector  such as state programs and strategical roadmaps for deployment of  innovative technologies with the aim to achieve efficiencies in operations and resource use, as well as stay in adherence to requirements of the sustainability. Moreover, he stressed role of international organizations like FAO in implementation of different project in Azerbaijan to achieve sustainability and to promote different factors like as participation of women in agriculture.  He continued his presentation with Turkey and European model of developments in agricultural sector and emphasized the use of innovative technologies like as GPS and GIS information systems, drones, satellite shots and other information technologies. He mentioned the recent trends observed in the agricultural sector of Azerbaijan and finalized his presentation with project activities with due attention to its components.

Matanat Pashayeva, the project specialist at AzTU delivered the presentation on the project objectives, outcomes, work packages and tasks to be implemented within each work package with due attention to development phase of the project. Here, more detailed information on the activities to be implemented within task of 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7 were  providedto the working group  members of the project, as well as their objectives and key outcomes to ensure their engagement in project activities.