A Family Farm Showcases Sustainable Agriculture Model in Scenic Azerbaijan

--

BioGarden Successfully Drives Agrotourism near the City of Sheki

Beneath the breathtaking Greater Caucasus mountains in Azerbaijan, Etibar Nuriyev and his family successfully run an agrotourism business in the form of an 8-hectare farm called BioGarden. Situated in the historic Silk Road city of Sheki — a UNESCO World Heritage site, the farm provides its 30,000 annual visitors with a window into the region’s culture and natural beauty, while showcasing an array of sustainable and profitable farming practices such as permaculture, organic farming and traditional agricultural techniques. It also offers a variety of activities for guests like traditional bread and desert baking master classes, workshops on tree care techniques and guided tours of the farm. One of the daughters is the manager of the farm, and the other is the general affairs coordinator and manages the guides. His wife S.Nuriyeva is in charge of the service sector.

“Agrotourism can be much more than just a way to showcase our farm to visitors,” said Etibar Nuriyev. “It is an opportunity to educate people about sustainable agriculture and the importance of preserving nature. That’s why, from the very beginning, we have been committed to creating an authentic experience for our guests, one that not only allows them to learn about farming and nature but also gives them a chance to taste delicious, locally grown produce.”

At BioGarden, visitors can follow its walking paths to explore its fruit and vegetable gardens, interact with animals like fish, birds, bees, rabbits and dogs, and become familiar with local farming practices and lifestyles. It is also the first agrotourism destination in Azerbaijan to allow visitors to sample produce directly from its fields, and with more than 200 different fruit varieties grown throughout the property like grapes, hazelnuts, cherries and pears, there is plenty to experience. The Nuriyev family, deeply rooted in the farm’s activities, plays an integral part in these experiences. Nuriyev’s daughters are actively involved; one manages the farm, ensuring smooth operations, while the other coordinates the guides and oversees general affairs. Etibar’s wife takes charge of the service sector, ensuring that every guest feels warmly welcomed. Their passion for sustainable agriculture and commitment to preserving their heritage shine through every interaction, creating a familial atmosphere that resonates with every visitor.

“As the heart of BioGarden, I believe that nurturing our visitors is as important as nurturing our land. Sharing our table, our culture and our heritage through food is a way to connect with the world, one meal at a time,” said S.Nuriyeva.

To help develop and diversify Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Private Sector Activity, identified agrotourism as a way of improving rural livelihoods through targeted financial support to local farmers, small businesses and community and women’s groups in rural regions. Over the past four years, USAID has supported a wide range of agrotourism programs by providing resources in the form of camping, kitchen, fruit-drying and equestrian equipment. Through its in-kind grant mechanism, USAID works to strategically invest in interventions that sustainably attract tourists and provide income-generating opportunities for small businesses and local community members, while putting an emphasis on involving women and youth. This resulted in USAID working with Nuriyev and his family on their BioGarden venture.

Due to its large scale of production, BioGarden experiences significant crop losses from fruits dropping or rotting before and during harvest, but, Nuriyev has been able to address this problem and strengthen the farm’s sustainability practices by purchasing fruit drying equipment. USAID provided financial support and offered expert guidance on Nuriyev’s operations, enabling BioGarden to secure advanced dehydration, cutting, packaging and semi-automatic peeling equipment.

“We have successfully broadened our horizons and opened up new possibilities for our visitors,” Nuriyev said. “Their [USAID’s] invaluable support has enabled us to acquire fruit drying equipment, which not only helps to minimize crop loss but also allows us to transform our products into a range of high-value products, maximizing profitability and enhancing the overall experience for our guests.”

In addition to being able to buy these dried fruits, visitors can view and learn about the fruit-drying process on-site, adding to the farm’s agritourism activities. Nuriyev and his family also generate sales from its fish and meat products, vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs and compotes, but ultimately believe that it is the farm’s restful and immersive environment that sets it apart from its competitors.

With its focus on sustainable farming practices, diverse fruit offerings and immersive tourism experiences, BioGarden is setting an example for agrotourism in the region. By valuing every aspect of the land and creating unique experiences for visitors, the family farm is proving that agrotourism can be both economically and environmentally sustainable.

--

--

CNFA (Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture)

We stimulate economic growth and improve livelihoods by cultivating entrepreneurship.