Georgia is fostering hazelnut production by launching a dedicated hazelnut sector development programme.
The programme aimed to grow the production of hazelnuts in Georgia along with the simultaneously decreasing cost price of hazelnuts and increasing export possibilities. The programme was initiated by the Georgian Government and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through the Agriculture Cooperatives Development Agency, using European Union (EU) budget support.
Last year Georgia’s export volume of nuts exceeded the export volume of wine for the first time, meaning nuts became Georgia’s main agricultural export product, according to data from the country’s Agricultural Ministry. Georgia’s Minister of Agriculture Otar Danelia believed hazelnuts had created a new perspective for Georgia’s agriculture sector.
Within the framework of the project, the Agriculture Ministry has begun constructing the facilities for a hazelnut-in-shell drier and storage business in the village of Darcheli, in Zugdidi Municipality. Upon completion, the business will have the capacity to dry over 24 tonnes and store over 500 tonnes of hazelnuts.
The price of Georgian nuts in the global market will become more competitive thanks to the VAT free taxation system. Photo from ENPARAD.
Due to be completed by the end of August 2015, Darcheli’s hazelnut industry will then be handed over to a 500-member strong hazelnut cooperative.
As the Agriculture Ministry will ensure international food security standards are implemented, the Darcheli hazelnut cooperative will be obliged to implement Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP) by September 2018, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) by June 2019.
Nut producing has been supported by the Government, especially with VAT free taxation. This has allowed the price of Georgian nuts in the global market to become more competitive.
The cost of nuts is increasing worldwide because of higher demand. In recent years the average price per kilogram of shelled nuts was four GEL while in 2014 this price had increased to eight-nine GEL as a result of international market trends. Last year Turkey, the world leading nut exporter, lost half of its harvest due to freezing weather so the global price of nuts increased and turned into a beneficial situation for Georgian entrepreneurs.