59-year-old Rafik Mammadov says his fruit orchard in the region of Khahmaz, Azerbaijan, lay fallow just a few years ago because there was no organized system of irrigation and every farmer was on his or her own. But that has changed.
“After the establishment of the association, I have water and I am irrigating my orchards,” he says, from among this orchard’s cherry, apricot, and apple trees.
The association Mammadov speaks of is part of a World Bank-supported water development project which is upgrading Azerbaijan’s farming irrigation systems, vital to the lives of an estimated 40 percent of the country’s more than 9 million people.
The rehabilitated and more efficient irrigation canals which the government project provides around the country are being handed over to local farming communities.