Since 1994, three German organisations, Diakonie Emergency Aid, Service Overseas (DÜ), and EZE have supported the Government of Azerbaijan in its quest of improving living conditions of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees, victims from the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Caucasus. In May 1996 an integrated relief and rehabilitation programme intended linking humanitarian needs and developmental strategies: moving from relief to development. The provision of agricultural inputs instead of food should enable the individual families to produce food and generate income through the sale of their produce. This, it was hoped, would help the beneficiaries to become less dependent on humanitarian assistance, increase the influence over their own lives and future, and nurture self-respect and self-confidence in a rapidly changing agricultural sector of the post-socialist era. However, experience and ideas were lacking for the elaboration and implementation of a concept that included the core function of emergency aid as well as steps that lead to self-reliance.
PACTeam was requested to assist in the conceptualisation and operationalisation of an agricultural training and advisory concept for gardeners and farmers of recently privatised smallholding. During a ten-month assignment a number of concrete activities were undertaken with local personnel. These included the elaboration of an extension concept, revision and elaboration of extension aid materials, development of farmer advisory groups, training of advisors in client-centred advisory work and group development activities, elaboration of a training manual, support in the establishment of a local NGO Agricultural Information Centre (AIC).
Approach development took into account the guiding principles of situation specificity, system flexibility, financial sustainability, and quality control and accountability for services rendered. The concept is based on the selection, recruitment, mobilisation, training and coaching of village-based advisors, who are graduates from agricultural schools and universities who became, as a result of the privatisation process, farmers themselves. They are contracted on a part-time basis by AIC and fulfil specific assignments, within a view to developing the private village-based advisory sector.
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Lamers, J., Dürr, G., Feil, P. (2000): Developing a client-oriented agricultural advisory system in Azerbaijan. In: Human resources in agricultural and rural development. FAO Rome, pp. 104-118. (http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/X7925M/X7925M11.htm)