Azerbaijan sees hazelnut harvest increase
By Naila Huseynli
August marks the start of hazelnut harvest season and it continuous by the end of September. Hazelnut growing is the main source of income for the population in the northwestern region of Azerbaijan. It is also mainly family business in Balakan, Zagatala, Qakh, Gabala, Khachmaz, and Shabran regions.
The fertility in hazelnut orchids are more productive compared to last year, according to Yusif Mammadov, a farmer from the village of Charkhi in the Khachmaz region, who said that the interest in hazelnuts has increased in recent years.
The farmers had previously peaches, apples and plums orchards, but now they prefer only hazelnut gardens. Hazelnuts cultivation requires little effort compared to other fruits. For instance, had peaches, apples and plums injected drugs more than 10 times during the season, but there is no need additional effort to maximize the annual cropping potential of hazelnut orchards.
Farmers are sure that 7-8 kilograms nuts will be harvested from each tree. The harvested hazelnuts must be cleaned from husk, which gives extra weight to the unshelled nuts. This job is usually done by hand, and only few farmers have invested in the purchase of ad-hoc machines.
Most farmers keep the hazelnuts in the warehouse to sell the product later at a more favorable price. The product is mainly sold in local markets during autumn-winter period. In addition, there are about 10 hazelnuts reception points in the region and they take the product from farmers at a profitable price.
Mammadov states that about 100 hazelnut trees can grow in 0.5 hectares of hazelnut orchard. This means annual income of more than 4,000-5,000 manats ($2,350-$2,938).
Of course, along with the natural factors that increase the productivity, proper agro-technical care also plays great importance.
Hazelnut production plays pillar role in the economy of the northern regions. There are 8,218 hectares of hazelnuts garden in Khachmaz region, and 3,912 hectares of these are harvested. In 2017 more than 5,800 tons of hazelnuts have been collected from these gardens.
It is expected to build 40,000 hectares of new hazelnut gardens across the country by the end of this year.
Moreover, Azerbaijan produces about 40,000-50,000 tons of in-shell hazelnuts annually. Azerbaijan Hazelnut Exporters Consortium also plans to increase production by almost 48 percent in 2018.
Nowadays, Azerbaijan exports both shelled and all other types of processed hazelnuts to EU and CIS countries.
In October 2016, President Ilham Aliyev established with a Presidential Decree the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation, AZPROMO, an entity aimed at supporting and promoting “Made in Azerbaijan” products around the world – including hazelnuts.
In 2016 Ferrero, the world’s largest buyer of hazelnuts started purchasing large quantities of Azerbaijan’s hazelnuts. Last year Azerbaijan produced 45,500 tons of hazelnut, which was 32.9 percent higher than in 2016. The country exported hazelnuts worth over $100 million in 2017.