The production of hazelnuts constitutes a major part of Georgian agriculture. As one of the country’s top 10 export commodities, they provide a source of income for more than 50,000 farmers and dozens of processing facilities.
The subtropical climate around the coast of the Black Sea offers particularly favourable conditions for their growth, according to an article recently published by the EU4Business initiative that supports development and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia.
“The livelihoods of around half of the Samegrelo region’s population are closely linked to hazelnut farming,” says Demur Ardia, owner of one of the processing facilities in the Samegrelo region of Georgia, where many of the country’s hazelnut plantations and orchards are located. “In villages, almost everyone grows them. Cultivating hazelnuts is what helped us overcome the hardships of the 1990s.”
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the EU, under its EU4Business initiative, support Demur Ardia and other owners of SMEs with similar drive and passion in Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. They help them to keep afloat and benefit from the free trade area with the EU, the world’s largest trading block with 500 million consumers.
The SMEs in Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine have been receiving assistance allowing them to meet European standards by investing in increasing levels of production, boosting growth and increasing competitiveness not only in the European market but in their local market as well.
Through partner banks, the EBRD provides credit lines for companies to foster stronger economic ties with the EU, which are complemented by grant incentives by the EU under its EU4Business initiative. Demur’s company is one of many companies that have been supported by this initiative, where they have been able to invest in modern equipment to ensure European quality standards for the final product, as well as receiving 15 per cent cash back on the whole investment.
“It is great to see Georgian SMEs benefit from opportunities provided by the DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area),” said Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia. “The European Union is ever more committed to supporting innovative entrepreneurs. I hope that Georgian small and medium businesses will continue making good use of the support we offer through the EU4Business initiative and other programmes.”