(MENAFN - AzerNews) By Sara Israfilbayova
Tobacco growing began to develop in Northern Azerbaijan in the middle of 19th century.
The peak period of tobacco growing in the country was in 1978. Whereas in 1970 tobacco was grown only on 14,000 hectares, this figure reached 18,000 hectares in 1978. In 1990 it dropped to 14,000. Then the decline rate accelerated and tobacco was sown on just 1,000 hectares in 2014.
Currently, the Azerbaijani government is taking measures to develop the tobacco industry in the country.
To this end, a five-year program was approved for the development of the tobacco production in Azerbaijan.
Under the state program for 2017-2021, approved by the presidential decree dated August 10, the tobacco industry will enjoy several privileges.
The document stipulates developing tobacco growing in the country, deepening the sphere of tobacco processing, ensuring the demand for raw materials of local processing enterprises operating in this area, increasing profitability and export potential, and increasing employment of the rural population.
Previously, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree amending the decree on the state support for the development of tobacco cultivation in the country from October 5, 2016.
The changes introduced to the legislation imply issuing subsidies to those, selling tobacco to legal entities involved in tobacco refinery and individuals involved in entrepreneurship. It will comprise 0.05 manat ($0.02) per kilogram for dry tobacco and per 10 kilograms of raw tobacco.
The head of state visited the north-western regions of the country -- Balakan, Zagatala and Gakh in early August, where he familiarized with the work done hereand gave additional instructions on development of traditional agricultural sectors for this region, namely tobacco growing, silkworm breeding, hazelnut farming.
To support and expand the tobacco production in Azerbaijan, the Association of Tobacco Producers and Exporters was created upon the initiative of local entrepreneurs.
"The establishment of the Association will help to coordinate the activities of producers and exporters of tobacco products, promote cooperation between them, accelerate the development of this area and will increase production and export of tobacco and tobacco products," Deputy Economy Minister Sahib Mammadov said at a meeting with entrepreneurs working in the sphere of tobacco production and export in the Zagatala region.
The country harvested 2,900 tons of tobacco in January-August 2017, which is 13.3 percent more than the same period of last year. During this period, the country produced tobacco products worth 24.91 million manats ($14.75 million), which is 15.9 percent less than in January-August 2016.