Outside of the harvest period, a typical hazelnut grower in the Black Sea region of Turkey will cultivate small plots of land by themselves, sometimes with the help of family members.
The work on their farm is usually only a part-time affair, which means it needs to be efficient if they are to produce a good quality crop, especially given the increasing prevalence of extreme climate conditions and its adverse effects on yields. But as a weekend grower, how do you access the know-how for better farm management?
For grower Adnan Resul Uğur, this has come from training by an ofi agronomist: “ofi agronomists provide us with a free consultancy service. They advised us on practices like fertilization, correct pesticide application and storage, soil analysis, and pruning and we saw big differences where we applied them with non-applied parts of farm. Now I trust them agronomists and they are not only giving consultancy on agriculture, but they train us on social projects as well. For example, with their financial support I renovated my workers’ house where the seasonal migrant workers live when they come to the hazelnut harvest.”
This professional service provided by ofi's agronomists - has been running since 2017 as a pilot project. In that time, 105 farmers have received 1:1 training on soil nutrition, pest management, pruning, bin management, harvest and drying. Lab results from crop and soil samples taken from each of their farms, then reveal whether the training has proved effective in practice.
Adnan has seen a 54% increase in his hazelnut yield since the 2017 harvest with a 40% reduction in quality defects.
There are plans extend the pilot and offer the consultancy service to a further 10 farmers over the next year, but in the meantime, learnings are shared with the rest of the farmers in ofi’s sourcing villages, so that they too can benefit from tried and tested practices to increase hazelnut yields and quality.