Slow Food in Azerbaijan presents results in the EU-funded COVCHEG project

Slow Food in Azerbaijan presents results in the EU-funded COVCHEG project – Slow Food International

The COVCHEG (Community-Based Value Chain Enhancement in the Caucasus Mountains) project funded by the European Union, funded by Slow Food in collaboration with the Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB), has been successfully completed. On December 9, 2021, the closing ceremony was held in the city of Sheki – Azerbaijan which was recognized by UNESCO.

The COVCHEG project, which aims to preserve local cultural and culinary heritages, with particular focus on economic regeneration and well-being of rural communities, represents an important step towards Slow. Food in Azerbaijan aims to protect what is left of local biodiversity, and to develop sustainable local value chains as viable alternatives to established and robust value chains that are being write off local production.

Slow Food in Azerbaijan presents results in the EU funded COVCHEG

“The huge potential of the project has been fully realized over the years and Slow Food is proud to have been able to support and show the small scale producers, chefs and working people in the country. As Slow Food, we will continue to work in Azerbaijan through the newly established network and contribute to a positive change in the system of food production and consumption, making it delicious, clean , fair and accessible to all”, said Paolo di Croce, Secretary General of Slow Food International.

To maintain quality production and preserve unique regions while restoring traditional processing methods, 5 Presidia Slow Food in Azerbaijan was established in the project.

In perfect alignment with the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, a core part of the European Green Deal, which establishes a network of land and marine protected areas across the EU, Slow Food Presidia supports directly to farmers and support the creation of farming communities that protect biodiversity and preserve traditional food production techniques. This helps farmers feel less isolated as they can overcome difficulties together and can access markets without the need for third-party involvement. Farmers also receive training from relevant experts and access to an international support network.

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1641373945 742 Slow Food in Azerbaijan presents results in the EU funded COVCHEGAll products protected by Presidia are historically and culturally associated with a particular region. Some of them are also included in the International Slow Food category – Ark of Taste. ONE national Ark of Taste menu of Azerbaijan are also put together using the different types of products listed in this category, such as Onion Rushanka, Ata-baba hazelnuts, Caucasian buffalo yogurt and other important local products need to be put back on the table.

There are also 11 Azerbaijani chefs who are members of Slow Cooking Alliance. Using products from the projects of Presidia and Ark of Taste and giving small producers visibility, they contribute to preserving agro-biodiversity, preserving culinary knowledge and local culture. Members of this international network also travel, meet and cook together to transfer local knowledge to stakeholders worldwide.

1641373945 243 Slow Food in Azerbaijan presents results in the EU funded COVCHEG

Throughout the project, the role of the local partner, the Azerbaijan Tourism Authority (ATB), is fundamental, especially in developing one of the highlights of the project, which is Slow food travel concept, bringing together local producers and culinary communities in certain regions and parts of the tourism value chain. The concept allows visitors to enrich their experiences through encounters with farmers, cheesemakers, herders, winemakers and other local producers to learn about different types of food. Various products have been produced since ancient times.

“The many great assets of Azerbaijan, including favorable climate and natural resources, have allowed us to develop the concept of Slow Food Tourism here within the framework of the COVCHEG project. This is one of the very important steps of ATB to build a sustainable tourism industry in Azerbaijan. With relevant stakeholders involved in this process, we will continue our work to develop engaging experiences in this direction.” Florian Sengstschmid, Executive Director of the Azerbaijan Tourism Authority.

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1641373946 120 Slow Food in Azerbaijan presents results in the EU funded COVCHEG

To make this experience accessible, a Slow Food Tourism map of Azerbaijan has been prepared, showing local producers meeting, products to taste and places to visit on the route. Northwest road of the country in Shamakhi, Ismayilli, Gabala, Sheki and Gakh. Each of these regions is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes, along with at least one product. There are currently 60 Slow Food Travel partners offering a wide range of services, from available culinary experiences to accommodation options, on designated routes in Azerbaijan.

For more information about Slow Food in Azerbaijan and its results, please visit Slow Food – COVCHEG website.

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