Agricultural output boomed in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia last year, contributing to strong economic growth in all three Caucasus countries. In Georgia, the recovery of agriculture is one of the primary reasons for the country’s 4.8 percent year-on-year GDP growth registered for the first three quarters of the year. During that period, agricultural output rose by 6.2 percent. Industrial production fell by 0.7. Much of the growth in agricultural output was due to the low starting point. The drought in 2000 proved a severe blow to Georgian agriculture: Production fell by 15 percent that year, pushing GDP growth down to 1.8 percent.
The drought did not particularly affect Azerbaijan. Agricultural growth there has therefore been even more impressive: Agricultural output soared by 12.1 percent in 2000. A slowdown was expected in 2001, but did not come to pass. Agricultural output rose 9.7 percent in the first nine months of the year. Industrial output, however, by way of contrast, rose by only 5.4 percent during the same period. GDP growth reached 9.3 percent. According to Azerbaijan’s Agriculture Ministry, the increase in agricultural output was primarily the result of land privatization and World Bank programs aimed at developing agriculture. The growth in agricultural production was especially important, given that a total of 42.3 percent of the Azeri labor force works in agriculture, making it the country’s largest source of employment.
Like Georgia, Armenia also suffered from the drought in 2000, with agricultural production falling by 2.5 percent that year. After a weak first half in 2001, Armenian agricultural production soared in the third quarter, bringing total growth for the first nine months of the year up to 11.8 percent. As in Georgia and Azerbaijan, agricultural output growth in Armenia was much stronger than that of industry, which increased by only 3.8 percent during that period. Agriculture contributed to surprisingly strong GDP growth in Armenia last year, up by 9.9 percent in the first three quarters (Interstate Statistical Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States: www.cisstat.com).
GEORGIAN ECONOMY PRESENTS MIXED PICTURE.