Hazelnuts in Turkey

For over two thousand years, Turkey has been home to the hazelnut. In fact, today eight out of every 10 hazelnuts consumed around the world is grown in Turkey. “If there were no hazelnuts in Turkey, the global price would go up five-fold,” said one local grower. The threat isn’t entirely academic – while Turkey has the best growing conditions to support large-scale cultivation, farmers today can still face many challenges in maintaining their crops.

A sample of hazelnuts, the Yavuz Hazelnut Products processing plant, Giresun, Turkey.

The Challenge

Sadullah Durusu followed in his father’s footsteps when he became a hazelnut farmer eight years ago. “I’m the son of a hazelnut farmer and, just like me, all of my four siblings are also hazelnut farmers,” he says. Sadullah, who harvests around eight tons of hazelnuts a year, says one of the biggest threats to his crop is grey mold, which wiped out 15 percent of his crop three years ago. “I lost around 12 thousand Turkish Lira [US$4,000], which is the total amount I pay my workers in a single month,” says Sadullah, emphasizing the impact.

Workers sort hazelnuts on conveyor belts at the Yavuz Hazelnut Products processing plant, Giresun, Turkey.

The Solution

Plant scientist Arzu Sezer has been looking for effective ways to combat grey mold for the past three years. Using the most effective fungicides, Arzu’s team is currently conducting four trials that are focused on finding the optimal time for farmers to apply crop protection products so that they use the least amount possible while remaining effective. “We have a responsibility toward the farmers and we take that very seriously,” she says.

Jars of hazelnut paste on a shelf at the Findik Evi Black Sea Chocolate Shop, Giresun, Turkey.