ASAP is a five-year, USAID-funded project to increase the incomes of agribusinesses and agricultural producers along the entire berry, hazelnut, orchard, pomegranate, and vegetable value chains. By supporting the growth and expanded exports of agribusiness SMEs through technical assistance by international experts and local Business Service Providers (BSPs), increased access to new technologies, marketing services, and finance, and strengthened international linkages, ASAP is contributing to the accelerated development of Azerbaijan’s rural and non-oil economy.
Since its launch in June 2014, ASAP has benefited not only Azerbaijani agribusinesses, but U.S. agribusinesses as well. By introducing American technologies, purchasing U.S. goods and services, engaging American experts, facilitating trips to the U.S. that have led to purchases by Azerbaijani agribusinesses from American companies or the establishment of other types of linkages, agriculture in both countries has benefited from these new ties and exposure. This has included specific work to facilitate increased sales of John Deere equipment in Azerbaijan through capacity-building work of the staff and clients of its distributor in the country, AzTekhnika.
In August 2017, ASAP fielded a U.S. agronomist with extensive experience in cotton and grain crops on a short-term assignment to Azerbaijan. These crops were selected because they are the only ones that AzTekhnika/John Deere serves in Azerbaijan. This is due to the size of equipment that the large-scale production of these crops requires. A U.S. cotton and grain agronomist and the ASAP Agribusiness Advisor worked in the field for two weeks to assess needs, make on-site recommendations, and collect data for a series of technical recommendations to help John Deere and its local distributor better understand and communicate to the local farmers and agribusiness how their machinery and equipment could benefit their operations.
One of the most significant findings from that STTA was the extensive soil and water salinity problem that is present in the cotton and feed grain production areas of Azerbaijan. It is clear that saline irrigation water significantly reduces yields in the affected areas. To date, the problem has not been fully explored or documented and there is no national strategy to mitigate the effects of the problem.
o Assist AzTekhnika/John Deere to improve the yields of their customers and potential customers; and
o Assist the Government of Azerbaijan to achieve the goal of developing the non-oil economy of the nation in the agricultural sector.
III. PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
o Review requested reports prior to arrival in Baku;
o Meet with key personnel of ASAP and AzTekhnika/John Deere in Baku upon arrival;
o Travel throughout the affected cotton and feed-grain production areas with ASAP, AzTekhnika/John Deere, and AgroCenter technical representatives;
o Collect such data and samples as are required by the consultant to complete the final report; and
§ Submit a final report to ASAP/AzTekhnika/John Deere that characterizes the salinity problem in these areas and include both a 1) national-level mitigation strategy and 2) a farm level mitigation strategy.
§ John Deere plans to hold a media event with the President or one of his team to formally hand over the Salinity Assessment and Mitigation Strategy upon its completion to the Government of Azerbaijan.
IV. MEETINGS RELATED TO UNDERSTANDING AND PERFORMING THE WORK
In order to fully perform the work specified under this consultancy, the Consultant shall meet with representatives from CNFA, USAID, AzTekhnika/John Deere, the Ministries of Agriculture and Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani private sector cotton production representatives, and cotton faculty from the Azerbaijan State Agricultural University (ASAU) in Ganja, Azerbaijan.
o Final report that fully characterizes the soil and water salinity of the defined regions of Azerbaijan
o National mitigation strategy focusing only on the designated cotton and feed-grain production areas
o Farm-level mitigation protocol
VI. PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE
This assignment is proposed to take place over 12 consulting days during a 14-calendar-day period beginning as early as the assignment and candidate are approved by USAID. An Azerbaijani visa will be required.
VII. MANDATORY AND DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS
The Consultant must be an experienced Post-Doctoral level research scientist with a PhD in Soil Science and with extensive experience with salinity effects on cotton and feed grains and mitigation techniques at a national and field level under similar soil and water conditions as those found in Azerbaijan, and preferably from Texas A&M University or another institution renowned
for research and education in conditions similar to those that prevail in the cotton-growing areas of Azerbaijan.