Organic hazelnut value chain creates income and decent employment in Western Georgia

The “Organic Hazelnut Value Chain Creates Income and Decent Employment in Western Georgia” project achieved significant milestones. It introduced Georgia’s first organic group certification system for hazelnut farmers, benefiting around 600 smallholders by cutting certification costs and boosting profits from organic hazelnut sales. In 2024, approximately 450 farmers are expected to attain organic certification, with others in the conversion phase. The project’s main goal is to improve the livelihoods of Georgian farmer families sustainably through organic and fair-trade hazelnut production, ensuring profitable sales via traceable value chains.

PAKKA, the project’s commercial partner, plays a vital role in raising farmers’ incomes as the main buyer and exporter of Georgian organic hazelnuts. Beneficiaries received premiums for hazelnuts sold to PAKKA and enjoyed additional support such as a deposit system allowing hazelnut storage until market conditions improved. PAKKA’s partnership with GEBANA, Swiss online retailer of organic products, further enhanced benefits, with profits reinvested into the community through the Caucasnut Association which unities organic hazelnut producer farmers.

The association is entrusted with overseeing the certification process and the sales of hazelnuts. Adhering to the group certification principle, organic hazelnuts were channeled through the association for sale. Moreover, Caucasnut extended various services to its members, including bulk purchasing and the provision of organic garden care products like pesticides and fungicides.

To further benefit beneficiary farmers, the project implements fair-trade certification, a groundbreaking initiative for Georgia’s hazelnut sector. This involved the Fairtrade Labelling Organization International (FLO) developing a hazelnut standard specifically tailored to the Georgian context, which didn’t exist previously. The impetus for this development was the active engagement of the project and development of Georgian organic hazelnut sector. Under this certification, 15% of the invoice value from the sales of fair-trade hazelnuts is allocated to the Caucasnut Association. This allocation is directed towards addressing the needs of beneficiary farmers, as determined by the association’s management.

The project has undertaken various initiatives that not only benefit hazelnut production but also contribute positively to environment and climate resilience. Alongside promoting organic practices and fair-trade certification, the introduction of compost and vermicompost farms adds another layer of environmental sustainability. These farms play a crucial role in enhancing soil health, thus mitigating the effects of climate change. As these practices are slowly becoming integral part of the hazelnut production cycle, they form a sustainable loop, wherein environmental stewardship and agricultural productivity reinforce each other, ensuring the long-term viability of hazelnut farming while fostering climate resilience.

Administrative Partner HEKS/EPER - Swiss Church Aid
Key Commercial Partner PAKKA AG
Other Partners Biological Farming Association Elkana, Pakka Georgia
Country Georgia
Sector Agriculture & agro-processing
Open / Closed Open
Duration July 2018 - August 2024
Approval Year 2017