STTA: Salinity Assessment

STTA: Salinity Assessment

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I. BACKGROUND

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.

II. OBJECTIVES

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.

V. DELIVERABLES

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.

Raspberry Consultant

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Background

 

The USAID Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) has recently expanded the Berry Value Chain to include Raspberry and Blueberry production. Raspberry production is concentrated in a small area near Ganja in the community of Goygol. The fields are small with an average size of less than 0.25 hectares.

Production levels have steadily declined in recent years and there is concern that gradually warming temperatures are responsible. This may be the case, but there is also evidence of insect and disease pressure that is contributing to the problem.

These growers have received technical assistance from another USAID-funded project, but nevertheless, production practices need to be updated.

In addition, there is significant new interest in blueberry production. This is a new crop for Azerbaijan and there is no technical assistance available in the country. If the consultant is versed in this crop, this topic will be added to the consultancy as well.

Objectives

  • Provide updated technical agronomic support to ASAP staff and raspberry (and blueberry) clients in the field.
  • Include reference materials on updated production and post-harvest handling techniques so that production manuals can be prepared that will be used in training classes and distributed to farmers.
  • Determine the causes of yield reductions that the farmers are experiencing and include corrective measures. 

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Meet with ASAP management and technical staff to review current practices.
  • Update staff on the production and post-harvest techniques that will be introduced
  • Travel in the field to meet with growers and to view their fields and practices
  • Provide recommendations to farmers and project staff to improve production quality and quantity

Deliverables

  • Reference material that can be used by ASAP to update production practices that are specific to the condition in Azerbaijan
  • Report with an analysis of the decline in productivity with recommendations to reverse this trend

Qualifications

  • PhD in agronomy, crop sciences, or related field
  • Extensive experience in berry cultivation, including raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Experience in strawberries also a plus.
  • Experience in intensive production methods and post-harvest handling
  • Experience conducting STTA for USAID or other donor-funded development projects
  • Experience working with berry growers in the South Caucasus
  • Knowledge of Azerbaijani or other Turkic language or Russian or other Slavic language desirable

Period of Performance and Timing:

 

Approximately 10 consulting days, to be scheduled as soon as possible. The level of effort would include, in addition to eight days in the field, two travel days.