In April 2014, Government of Azerbaijan’s officials and representatives of farmers and business associations from Aran, Guba – Khachmaz, and Ganja - Gazakh regions visited Croatia to share experiences about the benefits and mechanisms for participatory economic development planning at local and central government levels.
Javid Gadimov, Adviser at the Department of Regional Development and State Programs at the Ministry of Economy and Industry (MEI) said: “This visit was of great importance as we learned about the successful experience of Croatia in bringing its economic development policies and practices both at the national and regional level in line with EU standards. We consider this visit as one of the successful outcomes of SEDA implementation that gave us important knowledge and skills that we will apply in our future activities.”
Active participation of all stakeholders in planning and implementation of regional economic development programs is a useful tool in improving accountability of government agencies in addressing citizens’ needs. “During the visit, we met with local entrepreneurs in different locations and learned about their experience with participatory economic development. I believe we can share this experience to empower local communities by developing their own potential products and services,” said Rovshan Sharifov, a successful farmer from Khachmaz rayon.
The visit also gave Azerbaijani government representatives and agriculture experts the opportunity to explore Croatia’s best practices of local economic development mechanisms in the context of recent accession of Croatia to the European Union. They visited several highly successful agricultural development projects such as PIP company in Pisarovina Municipality of Zagreb County that uses modern technologies to process and enrich bee products and applies sophisticated quality control procedures in officially authorized laboratories. This visit was particularly valuable as processing bee products is a new activity in Azerbaijan.
The six-day exchange visit was organized by EWMI’s Socio Economic Development Activity (SEDA) in Azerbaijan. SEDA is funded by USAID, co-financed by the Government of Azerbaijan, and implemented by the East West Management Institute.