The U.S. Government Supports Georgian Hazelnut Producers via USAID (September 24)
In western Georgia, the hazelnut sector is represented by small farmers who face barriers to producing consistently high-quality crops, mostly due to a lack of handling services after the harvest. Unfortunately, the industry’s current drying capacity is less than ten percent of the annual production volume. This means that farmers sell directly to processors at a lower quality and price than that of dried products. To improve quality and decrease losses, formed a partnership with AgriGeorgia/ Ferrero and Georgia’s Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (ARDA), to establish new facilities to effectively de-husk, dry, store, and test hazelnuts. Last week, USAID Mission Director Peter Wiebler joined local farmers and partners in unveiling a new Hazelnut Husking, Drying, and Storage facility in Koki village, Zugdidi Municipality. The facility is located in the Administrative Boundary Line area and is expected to employ 17 individuals, serve approximately 300 local farmers, and dry up to 1,000 tons of hazelnuts. At an estimated value of $1,800 per ton, this represents $1.8 million in revenue to farmers each year. The new hazelnut drying facility is part of a successful public-private partnership between the U.S. and Georgian Government, the private sector, and local communities.