Historically, hazelnuts have been one of Georgia’s main crops in terms of economic value; as the country is located on the Black Sea coastal area, which has suitable soil and climate conditions for growing hazelnuts. Even as early as the fourth century B.C., populations grew wild forms of hazelnut, which later adapted to local conditions and formed regional varieties (GEONUTS, 2023).
According to the 2014 Agricultural Census, approximately 107,000 agricultural holdings (17% of all such holdings) are involved in hazelnut production (Geostat (National Statistics Office of Georgia), 2014). More than half of these hazelnuts are produced in the Georgian region of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, where the crop is a major source of income for rural households engaged in agriculture.
Together with wine, hazelnuts also represent the leading agricultural commodity in terms of production and export. The sector has grown significantly during the last decade, while local producers and experts believe that there is the potential for further expansion in both production and quality, which could provide Georgia global leadership in this sector. Yet it is important to ask, does Georgia have a real prospect to achieve this ambitious goal? What are the key constraints to growth and how is it possible to capitalize on opportunities for growth? This policy brief reviews the hazelnut sector and its challenges, and moreover, it provides recommendations for strengthening the position of Georgian hazelnuts on international markets.