Spring 2005 (13.1)
December 22, 2004, the National Academy Of Sciences and the Ministry
of Agriculture of Azerbaijan celebrated the 100th year Jubilee
of Professor Aghakhan Aghabeyli (1904-1980). Aghabeyli was one
of first professional Azerbaijani selective geneticists. He is
especially remembered for the development of two highly productive
breeds of water buffalo - the Caucasian Buffalo and Azerbaijan
Buffalo. Aghabeyli founded the new science of Buffalo Breeding
During his lifetime, Professor Aghabeyli was recognized with
the prestigious award of Honorable Scientist of Azerbaijan. He
was appointed Vice-President of the Azerbaijan Society for Genetics
and Selection, Corresponding Member of the All-Union [Soviet,
meaning not just Azerbaijan] Academy of Agricultural Sciences
(AAAS), and Chair of the AAAS Husbandry Division in Tbilisi,
In 1927, Aghabeyli graduated from Azerbaijan Agricultural University.
He carried out his doctoral studies in Moscow under the leadership
of the famous Soviet geneticists A.S. Serebrovski and N.D. Potyomkin.
Aghabeyli was the first scientist in Azerbaijan to carry out
the principles of selective genetics with chickens, sheep, goat,
cows and zebu [humped cattle].
Left: Azerbaijan's Academy of Sciences marked
the 100th Jubilee of Aghabeyli in December 2004.
of indigenous Bozakh and Lezgi sheep provided the basis for the
creation of Merinos breed (a wool-producing breed). He also produced
a new breed of zebu by crossbreeding local Azerbaijani zebu cows
with the Latvian Brown bulls.
He authored more than 230 scientific works, including eight monographs
in Azeri, Russian, English, Hindu and Vietnamese. In the early
1930s, he developed a methodology for teaching genetics in Azerbaijan's
universities and compiled the first textbooks on genetics in
the Azerbaijani language - Course on the Genetics of Animals
(Ganja 1932) and Genetics: The Material Basis of Heredity (Ganja
His other well-known books include: Buffalo Breeding (Baku 1959,
1964), Buffaloes (Moscow 1967), The Breeding of Domestic Animals
(Baku 1975), Azerbaijani Buffalo (Baku 1980), Water Buffalo (Hanoi
1977), Zebu and Its Hybridization with Cattle (Baku 1981).
In 1966, W.Ross Cockill and P.Webb, representatives of the United
Nations Animal Production and Agriculture Division, ordered Aghabeyli's
book and sought permission from Soviet officials to visit him.
As a scientist, he was the Founder and Scientific head of the
world-known Dashyuz Breeding Center, a special breeding and research
center established in Shaki in northwestern Azerbaijan. It was
there that he developed the two breeds of buffalo, which were
distinguished for their very high productivity and excellent
quality of milk and meat. These new breeds were sent to Egypt,
Bulgaria, Vietnam and other countries. Even though it was not
so easy to set up such contacts in Soviet times, many international
scientists did succeed in visiting Dashyuz.
Aghabeyli lectured in many republics of the former Soviet Union
and was involved in mentoring and advising about 50 PhD students
over the course of his lifetime.
In connection with the 100th Jubilee celebration, the Dashyuz
Breeding Center has been named after him. In addition, two streets
have been given his name (one in Ganja, and the other in Salyan
where Dr. Aghabeyli was born). A special stipend was also established
in his name at Ganja Agricultural University, where he lectured
for many years.
After Aghabeyli's death in 1980, buffalo breeding began to decline
in Azerbaijan especially with the collapse of the Soviet Union
and the difficult economic transition from Socialism to a market
economy. Many of the buffaloes which had been specially bred
were slaughtered until the breed nearly became extinct.
In late 2004, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to begin
to develop buffalo breeding again. Accordingly, the buffalo herds
and buffalo breeding farms are being restored and several contracts
with foreign enterprises have been signed. For example, Azerbaijan
is now collaborating with Italian partners in the production
of Mozzarella cheese. So the rare scientific work of Aghabeyli
is being revived a century later.
Dr. Farid Alakbarli
is the grandson of Dr. Aghabeyli. Farid works at the Institute
in Baku and has two doctorate degrees - one in Historical Sciences
and the other in Biology. His own specialty is medieval
medical manuscripts in the Arabic script. To read about the life and scientific
contributions of Dr. Aghabeyli's wife, Khadija Aghabeyli, see
Era - Growing Up in Baku's Old City" (AI 12.3, Autumn 2004). Search
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