The weather on the first day of the spring month of March was extremely cold in Dresden with temperatures around minus 12 degrees Celsius and an icy wind. In the early morning, 16 Azerbaijani farmers took the bus that was to keep them fairly warm and take them to the places where they were going to visit German enterprises and institutions that day.
Dresden. In the agricultural sector, the cold season is the time for planning. Or a time to participate in the Manager Training Programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and establish contacts in Germany. But at least on this 1st March, it also meant: The early bird catches the worm.
The group from Azerbaijan had three meetings planned for that day: at the organic farm “Vierfelderhof”, Öko-Landbau-Beratung Berlin-Brandenburg e.V. (an association for the promotion of organic farming) and the vocational school Oberstufenzentrum Märkisch-Oderland. Today “organic” is not only a topical subject in Germany, a country characterised by affluence. At Vierfelderhof, sustainable farming is practised, but that is not all they offer: this farm’s concept includes proximity to nature and farming already for pre-school children. For example, children from the age of 2-3 years have the opportunity to experience farm animals up close or to harvest potatoes and strawberries and thus discover how valuable and important agricultural products are. Here young and old learn that this is not just part of the urban idea that organic products are “fashionable”.
The agriculturalists from Azerbaijan received further information at Öko-Landbau-Beratung. There they gained insights into certain aspects of EU agricultural policy and how it affects farms. For example, the partipants learnt that even the use of fertiliser is, to a certain extent, regulated at EU level. But support programmes for agricultural entrepreneurs – the EU has subsidy rates for organic farming methods – are also part of the policy. The information provided was generally very interesting for the Azerbaijanis.
At Oberstufenzentrum Märkisch-Oderland, students already working on farms in the region within the framework of the dual vocational education and training system described their training and the special tasks on their farms. This dual education and training was of particular interest for the foreign guests. “That is exactly what I have always wanted for our country, and here it is reality”, says Zhalya Amirbayova, a farmer from Qusar. “I already intended to establish a farmers’ association in my region in Azerbaijan, and now I will use it as a platform to promote something similar to the German dual education and training system”, she continues.
However, the month in Germany was not only devoted to transferring know-how and sharing experiences made. The Azerbaijani entrepreneurs were also interested in both export and import business. They were looking for agricultural machinery, packaging machinery, seed and services: they primarily offered agricultural products with different degrees of processing for the German market.
ARGE NBL Dresden