Qocaqli, in the Khachmaz region of Azerbaijan, is the only village in the country with “homemade” tractors: vehicles without any semblance of a brand, constructed piece by piece by the farmers themselves. Almost every family in this village has a unique, hand-built tractor.
Valekh Valiyev is a farmer in Qojagli. All his life he has been involved in agriculture, and has built his own machinery for his farming. These homemade tractors were born out of necessity: the old Soviet machinery left in the area no longer works, and new machines are far to expensive for ordinary farmers. Valekh spends only 2000 AZN to build his own tractor, far less than he would spend to buy one. The oil in his tractor only has to be changed once a year, and is rather fuel efficient. “I refill the gas tank with 1-2 liters [of petrol] and it’s enough for one week. I even forget when the last time I filled it was,” says Valekh.
Valekh says that the homemade tractors, often referred to as “motorblocks,” are so easy to use that even a 10-year-old child could do it, and driving them doesn’t require any license or special permit. The machines are also good to use in the fields- they move easily through trees and past obstacles.
Despite the popularity of these“motoblocks,” not all villagers refuse to use the old Soviet machines. Bakhram, who has a cherry garden located far away from his house, also has a motoblock, but he prefers to work with his “classic” Soviet tractor. Handmade motorblocks, he says, have a lot of downfalls, so 5 years ago he spent 7000 AZN to buy his Soviet tractor, and has never regretted it.
“[The tractor] is a very important piece of equipment in the life of rural people,” says Bakhram.
They use tractors for heavier work. “Especially, to uproot tree trunks, or to carry bricks or firewood,” Bakhram adds.