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Delicious organic hazelnuts from Azerbaijan


Rapunzel starts a new cultivation project in Azerbaijan

They are crunchy, aromatic and extremely big – hazelnuts from Azerbaijan. In March 2020, Rapunzel started to market the nuts.

The latest Rapunzel cultivation project required a lot of preparatory work – development work in Azerbaijan itself and two years of thorough counselling and support by Rapunzel.

But it was worth it: the cooperation with Rapunzel gives local farmers new opportunities
and prospects. And our customers can enjoy first-class organic hazelnuts.


 

30 years of development

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Most of the worl market's hazelnuts are produced in Turkey. With the Turkey project, Rapunzel laid the groundwork for organic agriculture in Turkey. Other countries of origin for hazelnuts are Italy or Spain. Until now, Azerbaijan in the Southern Caucasus region has
been hardly known for top-quality hazelnuts.

In Azerbaijan hazelnuts have a long tradition, because the warm, subtropical climate on the southern slopes of the Caucasus and the soil are perfect for the cultivation of hazelnuts.
Amin Babayev, Azerbaijani soil scientist and promoted professor in organic agriculture, has been advising his fellow countrymen on organic agricultural methods for 30 years. Today, he is the soul of the organic movement in Azerbaijan:

Incidentally, in addition to advising interested farmers, Professor Babayev also produces top-quality compost himself, supports bee-keeping avtivities and performs scientific studies in his own organic research center. 
Prof. Amin Babayev is a pioneer of organic agriculture in Azerbaidjan
Prof. Amin Babayev is a pioneer of organic agriculture in Azerbaidjan
Prof. Amin Babayev is a pioneer of organic agriculture in Azerbaidjan
In 2017, Amin Babayev was awarded the One World Award by Rapunzel and IFOAM (Organics International). Rapunzel presents this award to future makers every three years. From this encounter developed the new partnership for Rapunzel hazelnuts.

more about the One World Award

Cooperative partnership between our cultivation projects in Turkey and Azerbaidjan 

Rapunzel procures most of the hazelnuts that are sold in bags or that are used for the production of muesli or hazelnut butter from farmers at the black Sea coast who participate in our Rapunzel Turkey project.

Already since 1976, we have been cooperating with Turkish farmers - these are long-term and reliable partnerships. 

more about the Turkey-Project
Rapunzel Turkey played an important role for the establishment of the new partner in Azerbaidjan. Because Rapunzel founder and Managing Director Joseph Wilhelm accepted an invitation of One World Award winner Amin Babayev and visited together with Emrah Dagdeviren, the head agrcultural engineer of Rapunzel Turkey, the farmers in Azerbaidjan. This on-site visit showed that perfect opportunities for cooperation existed there. Therefore, in 2018 and 2019 experts from Rapunzel and from Rapunzel Turkey spent several weeks of intensive on-site consultation in Azerbaidjan. 

 
Emrah Dagdeviren, advisor from Rapunzel Turkey (left) during a visit in Azerbaidjan
Emrah Dagdeviren, advisor from Rapunzel Turkey (left) during a visit in Azerbaidjan
Emrah Dagdeviren, advisor from Rapunzel Turkey (left) during a visit in Azerbaidjan
Barbara Altmann, head of raw material supply at Rapunzel, talks with hazelnut farmer Umudvar Jusifov.
Barbara Altmann, head of raw material supply at Rapunzel, talks with hazelnut farmer Umudvar Jusifov.
Barbara Altmann, head of raw material supply at Rapunzel, talks with hazelnut farmer Umudvar Jusifov.
The Turkish agricultural engineers were delighted to cooperate with the Azerbaidjani farmers and with Amin Babayev. 

An open exchange was further facilitated by the closely related languages - this made it easier to share existing know-how with the new Azerbaidjani project partner. This close cooperation also helped the Azerbaidjani project become successful!  
The main region where Rapunzel hazelnuts are cultivated is located near the municipalities of Balaken, Zaqatala and Qax.
The main region where Rapunzel hazelnuts are cultivated is located near the municipalities of Balaken, Zaqatala and Qax.
The main region where Rapunzel hazelnuts are cultivated is located near the municipalities of Balaken, Zaqatala and Qax.

Organic on-site inspection

Amin Babayev's pioneer work with the hazelnut farmers paid off, because the first organic inspection was straightaway successful.

This was only possible because Professor Amin Babayev had introduced the farmers to organic cultivation criteria over the years. 
The main hazelnut growing area for the Rapunzel hazelnuts is located in the region near Balaken, Zaqatala and Qax. Most of the farmers grow hazelnuts on small, several hectares big plots. In addition to hazelnut cultivation, most farmers also keep some animals like cattle or chicken, grow vegetables for self-supply or keep bees. As a rule, farms are family-run, but often siblings or neighbors help each other. 

 
Azerbaidjani consultant Zakir Mammadov inspects the hazelnut harvest.
Azerbaidjani consultant Zakir Mammadov inspects the hazelnut harvest.
Azerbaidjani consultant Zakir Mammadov inspects the hazelnut harvest.
During the Soviet era, hazelnuts groves were planted on relatively large plots. When the land was allocated to individuals after the collapse of the Soviet Union, individual farmers' plots often bodered on neighboring hazelnut fields.

This is a genuine advantage for organic cultivation, because a potential contamination from conventional neighboring fields is minimized. 
Thanks to the longtime work of Professor Babayev there was already an increased awareness in the region, e.g. for the preservation of soil fertility. In the joint organic project with Rapunzel, the organic hazelnut farmers will benefit from this know-how in a more systematic way. With further trainings, the Azerbaijani farmers hope for better and more secure yields. Being part of this project also means for the farmers reliable procurement of their products at fair prices by Rapunzel.
Moreover, the farmers are independent from intermediate traders and do not have to worry about how to market their products. 

On-site processing

The hazelnuts are processed in the small town of Zaqatala in the Northwestern part of the country, close to the border to Georgia.

The hazelnuts are manually harvested and dried in the sun. The Azerbaidjani farmers are very proud of their hazelnuts because the nuts from Azerbaidjan excel in terms of their optical appearance, their taste and their overall quality. 

 
Since Azerbaidjani hazelnuts have a higher humidity than Turkish hazelnuts, the nuts undergo a second drying step at the processing plant - in order to ensure that the nuts stay crunchy and fresh.

At the family company Kaslar, the organic hazelnuts are cracked. Turkish colleagues also supported Kaslar and shared their know-how with the processing company.

 
The hazelnuts are sorted at the processing company.
The hazelnuts are sorted at the processing company.
The hazelnuts are sorted at the processing company.
Carolin from Rapunzel's quality assurance team is pleased about the high quality hazelnuts.
Carolin from Rapunzel's quality assurance team is pleased about the high quality hazelnuts.
Carolin from Rapunzel's quality assurance team is pleased about the high quality hazelnuts.
Upon arrival at Rapunzel headquarters in Legau, the Rapunzel quality assurance team thoroughly inspects the crunchy power packages, because only top-quality nuts find their way into bags, into our muesli or our nut butter. 

The delicious nut from the Rapunzel project in the Caucasus thus represents the logical continuation of the long-term organic pioneer work of Professor Amin Babayev. 
Hazelnuts project
Hazelnuts project
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