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Azerbaijan’s Tartars and Oxfam strawberries ;-)

Written by on Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Azerbaijan, Business and Economics, Photoblog
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Editor’s note: To mark world food day, Emil Baghirov, a blogger from Azerbaijan, travelled to the Tartar region in the center of the country to find out how Oxfam-supported strawberry farming is changing rural women’s lives. Here are his impressions.

This post has been provided courtesy of Oxfam.

Across a small iron bridge over the Tartar river and beyond the cotton fields, lies the village of Irevanli. It’s home to over a thousand refugees who left Armenia during Soviet times.

A group of women with red buckets harvest strawberries in the fields near their home. Strawberry farming is one of the main sources of livelihood for people in this village, and many women rely on this to earn a living.

Tamara, whose husband owns the land, previously struggled to earn a living from growing strawberries, and was only able to harvest the fruit for one month each year. But with financial support from Oxfam, farmers were able to install drip irrigation systems and ​​cultivate a new type of strawberry, the ‘Victoria variety’, which is harvested from May to October.

For Tamara and other women farmers in the village, Oxfam’s support marked a turning point in their lives. The Victoria strawberries are much bigger than traditionally grown fruit and therefore fetch twice the price. Tamara is now seeing the yields of her hard work, and her income has increased.

For Khalida, working with her neighbours to establish a strawberry cooperative helped to ease the work load and increase their impact. The strawberries are equally distributed amongst the members and help to support the livelihoods of other families living nearby. With Oxfam’s support, the women are able to cultivate new varieties of strawberries, sell their produce in the local markets and improve their living standards.

Goyerchin, 64, and a widow, is the main breadwinner in her family and reliant on her pension. Her son, who lives in the capital, Baku, is unable to provide financial support. After her husband died, Goyerchin had no choice but to work in the fields harvesting cotton and weeding. Goyerchin heard about the cooperative, and began taking part in strawberry growing. Thanks to the project, her financial situation has greatly improved.

Samad, who is Tamara’s husband and owns the land, adds fertilizer to the newly plowed fields. With the profits they made this year, Tamara and her husband hope to extend their strawberry fields. They’re filled with hope for the future.

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