Azerbaijan's economy has witnessed strong growth over the last decade with average real GDP growth rate exceeding 10%. Income of population increased by 5.2 times and the poverty rate decreased from close to 50% to 4.9%. However, important disparities remain, notably between the oil-rich capital and the rest of the country, and more generally, between the urban centers and the rural areas. These problems have been exacerbated by the recent oil price driven crisis and reinvigorated the need to revive the economic self-standing of the regions and, more generally, to support the economic diversification of the country. For now the centralised management approach still dominates, although positive changes towards more regionally diversified support measures are expected. In anticipation of this process, the action will target one selected region (Lankaran Economic Region) enabling the project to support local communities in a holistic manner to efficiently address their problems.
The Lankaran Economic Region was selected for this targeted EU assistance Lankaran has the lowest regional economic output and income per capita and the lowest levels of investments per capita. At the same time, the region has undisputed potential in the production of high-value horticultural produce, which can be better marketed in future through improved transport infrastructure, for instance the newly created South-North corridor. Further, the region's features respond to the EU's policy on supporting rural development through measures targeting added values in processing chains, quality schemes, environment, areas with natural constraints, diversification and even rural heritage; iii) the region has not hosted much of the presence of international assistance until now, but has recently received increased Government attention in the form of pilot support to small family businesses.
The technical assistance project consists of two components:
Component 1: Strengthening the capacity of the Government of Azerbaijan for better planning and management of territorial development and smart specialisation strategies, which also will support local businesses facing economic consequences from the COVID-19 outbreak
Component 2: Improving the cooperation and communication between fruit and vegetable sector actors and the enhancement of market access by establishing a modern collaborative network of local economic and community cooperation hubs
Qualifications and skills:
- At least a university degree in agriculture/horticulture or in its absence 3 years of professional experience in agriculture/horticulture development above the general professional experience requirement;
- Fluency in oral and written English (at least level 2 on a scale of 1 [excellent] to 5 [basic]);
- Command of Azerbaijani, Russian or Turkish language would be an advantage.
General professional experience:
- At least 8 years of professional experience in the horticultural sector in the last 12 years;
- Relevant work experience in the above subjects working in the EU or EU candidate countries would be an advantage.
Specific professional experience:
- At least one experience in a project as expert with minimum 200 WD input in horticulture value chain analysis and/or development in the last 8 years;
- Experience in designing smart specialization strategies for agricultural products would be an advantage.
The intended start date is 1st of September 2021 and the period of implementation of the contract will be 38 months from this date.