23-year-old Atabala Mahammadli, one of the most recent graduates of the program, grew up in an average rural family. Following the completion of his studies, he got a job at a large dairy farm in Gabala where he oversees the process of livestock feeding and assists in breeding. These were things he’d never known before.
“I was just an ordinary student...now I’m a full-time employee of one of the country’s giant agricultural companies,” he says. “Before, I was not very hopeful about the future ahead of me and was unsure of where my career would take me next. Now I know that I have a purpose in life. My dream is to become a top-notch professional myself and provide high quality services not only within the company, but also to other people in the villages even beyond Gabala.”
The curriculum is part of a UNDP-GEF programme that has resulted in the sustainable management of 20,000 hectares of forests and 8,000 hectares of pastures.
Today, there’s a positive manifestation of this region’s revival: most of the 60 youth of Shamakhi and Ismailli that received training no longer feel that they are outsiders in their homeland. They are sought after, their skills and knowledge are of demand and they are more confident about their future career plans. For the first time, the promise of making a profit is very real.
For more information, see Sustainable Land and Forest Management in the Greater Caucasus landscape and the Clima East Pilot Project in Azerbaijan.