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Turkey project: harvest thriller 2021


Climate change also affects Turkish farmers
[11/21] Until the dried fruit and nuts from the Rapunzel Turkey project have found their way onto the shelves of your health food store, both, the 430 farming families in the project and Rapunzel have to experience exciting months - more then ever during these times of climate change. Will extreme weather events destroy the harvest? Will the farmers manage to collect the nuts before the rain is coming? Is there sufficient water until the fig and the  apricot trees can be harvested? Find out from our harvest report what preoccupies the peasant families and Rapunzel before and during the harvest season and how the harvest 2021 went.  
The Turkey project is Rapunzel's biggest and oldest farming project. The natural health food producer performed real pioneer work in Turkey and maintains close contact with the Turkish project farmers. 

Knowing where it comes from - this principle is even more important for the Turkey project than for other Rapunzel suppliers, because Rapunzel's own agricultural engineers from the Turkish Rapunzel subsidiary accompany the peasant families throughout the year, engaging in a permanent exchange with the farmers; they share their sorrows, advise and support them. 
 
The good news for 2021 in advance: by and large, the year went well for the peasant families. The effects of climate change, however, increasingly preoccupy the farmers. 

Ömür, sales director of the Rapunzel Turkey subsidiary, informed the colleagues at Rapunzel in Legau at the end of August: "Today is a really good day. It's only 34 °C and it's really pleasant compared to the last weeks when the temperature was always above 40 °C." Naturally, the farmers and the crops on the fields experience this up close.

Interview with sultana farmers from the Turkey project

Grapes between hail storms ad sunburn

The overall sultana and raisin harvest in the regions Manisa and Salihli in Western Turkey was quite satisfactory, both, with respect to quantities and quality - despite frost and hail events. The extremely hot temperature especially in midsummer also stressed the grapes and resulted in smaller fruits. Some grapes also had a sunburn. Fortunately, this is only an optical problem and has only minor effects on the grapes' flavor. During the sultana drying time there was no rain which led to a good average quality.

Many families have been cooperating with Rapunzel already since the 1980s. The grape harvest takes place in August. The farmers dry the fruit for some days before they are transported to Rapunzel Turkey in the town of Ören, where they are checked and further processed.

mehr zum Ablauf der Traubenernte
Sultana grower Mustafa Ali Turgut from Güzelköy, Manisa (l.) and Rapunzel agricultural engineer Süleyman Şahin Ince examine the vines.
Sultana grower Mustafa Ali Turgut from Güzelköy, Manisa (l.) and Rapunzel agricultural engineer Süleyman Şahin Ince examine the vines.
Sultana grower Mustafa Ali Turgut from Güzelköy, Manisa (l.) and Rapunzel agricultural engineer Süleyman Şahin Ince examine the vines.

Figs – extreme dryness and concentrated flavor

In Aydin, in Western Turkey, the 2021 season started relatively well for the figs. The fruit setting was satisfactory. Prolonged heat since the month of May and a lack of precipitation caused the figs to form relatively light and small fruits - their aroma, however, became more concentrated. In some regions, it was so hot and dry that the fig trees literally dehydrated and dried up. 

Aydin is located approx. 150 southeast of Izmir, in the center of a fertile plain that borders the Menderes rivers. In the past, thanks to a favorable climate, the best Turkish figs developed here along the mountain slopes. The remoteness of the area and the lack of conventional agriculture in the vicinity guarantee hundreds of hectares of fig trees gowing without any contamination. 
Fruity sweet organic figs from Western Turkey
Fruity sweet organic figs from Western Turkey
Fruity sweet organic figs from Western Turkey

The apricots grew well in the summer

Malatya, the center of the Turkish apricot production ist located in Eastern Anatolia at an altitude of approximately 1,000 m. The normally moderately warm and dry climate of the high plains is perfect for sweet apricots. The trees of the particualrly fruity, organic apricots are cultivated biodynamically in an area of 450 hectares. 

The apricot harvest 2021 came to a good end in Malatya. It was very fortunate that the apricot farmers were spared from hail storms. Despite the great summer heat, the average apricot size was not smaller than in the last years. Depending on region, some apricots were even bigger than usually. The reason for this was that sufficient amounts of water were available during the main growth phase. 
The Turkey project stands for long-term partnership: apricot grower Bahri Tulaz from Malatya (r.) and Rapunzel agricultural engineer Emrah Dağdeviren
The Turkey project stands for long-term partnership: apricot grower Bahri Tulaz from Malatya (r.) and Rapunzel agricultural engineer Emrah Dağdeviren
The Turkey project stands for long-term partnership: apricot grower Bahri Tulaz from Malatya (r.) and Rapunzel agricultural engineer Emrah Dağdeviren

Hazelnuts from the Black Sea Coast and from Azerbaijan

From the Turkish Black Sea coast Rapunzel has been sourcing organic hazelnuts for decades. There, the summer temperatures were not as extremely high as in other regions and the hazelnuts developed very well. When harvest started in the beginning of August, the sun was shining and the farmers were able to harvest perfect hazelnuts. 
 
Starting in mid-August, however, it was raining repeatedly at the Black Sea coast - this is rather unusual during this time of the year. The hazelnuts had to be collected and dried very quickly, but the rain did damage the hazelnuts. This resulted in smaller harvest quantities for the farmers and contributed to a reduced cracking yield. Nuts that did not comply with the high Rapunzel requirements were consequently sorted out, as only perfect and top-quality hazelnuts are marketed by Rapunzel.
The harvest in Azerbaijan was better. Rapunzel's demand for hazelnuts has been growing continuously. That was one of the reasons why we started an organic hazelnut project in Azerbaidjan a couple of years ago. The conditions throughout the growth phase this year were consistently favorable for hazelnuts. In Azerbaijan - in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains - the hazelnut harvest starts a little bit later than in Turkey. It was already foreseeable when the harvest began: 2021 was one of the best harvest years since the project was started.  
Cemal Tahmaz and his daughter Ezgi examine a hazelnut tree. The Tahmaz family has been running an organic farm since decades at the Black Sea coast.
Cemal Tahmaz and his daughter Ezgi examine a hazelnut tree. The Tahmaz family has been running an organic farm since decades at the Black Sea coast.
Cemal Tahmaz and his daughter Ezgi examine a hazelnut tree. The Tahmaz family has been running an organic farm since decades at the Black Sea coast.
Organic hazelnut farmer Feyzi Güner is happy about his harvest
Organic hazelnut farmer Feyzi Güner is happy about his harvest
Organic hazelnut farmer Feyzi Güner is happy about his harvest
The crunchy hazelnuts form the Azerbaijan project grow in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.
The crunchy hazelnuts form the Azerbaijan project grow in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.
The crunchy hazelnuts form the Azerbaijan project grow in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.

Certified pursuant with Fair for Life (FFL)

Social responsibility has been a main focus of Rapunzel right from the beginning. This is also reflected in the Turkey project that was developed in the 1980s. Since a few years, Rapunzel even goes further. In 2019, the first products from the Rapunzel Turkey project were certified according to the Fair for Life (FFL) standard - the social and fair-trade standard of the Ecocert group. IUntil today, nearly 80 farmers of Rapunzel's Turkey project were certified pursuant with FFL. The certification includes hazelnuts, apricots, sultanas and figs.

In addition to aspects that are normally covered by social standards, the FFL certification especially includes fair trade criteria as well as environmental aspects. The standard examines the entire value chain, from the cultivation of the raw products all they way to the packaging process. Annual on-site inspection examine if the farmers comply with the standards and if all processing standards are adhered to. Additional aspects that are examined are occupational health, the legitimate right of free assembly, the ban of discrimination and of child or forced labor, the compliance with national laws as well as the payment of fair wages for all employees.
The Rapunzel Turkey project – a social and sustainable organic pioneer project
The Rapunzel Turkey project – a social and sustainable organic pioneer project
The Rapunzel Turkey project – a social and sustainable organic pioneer project

Products from our farming projects in Turkey and in Azerbaijan


Whole sweet apricots project
Whole sweet apricots project
Apricot paste project
Apricot paste project
Hazelnuts project, demeter
Hazelnuts project, demeter
Hazelnuts project
Hazelnuts project
Sultanas project
Sultanas project
Sultanas, project, demeter
Sultanas, project, demeter
Raisins project
Raisins project
Natural figs, project, demeter
Natural figs, project, demeter
Figs in basket, project
Figs in basket, project
Protoben figs project, demeter
Protoben figs project, demeter
Soft figs project
Soft figs project
Fig paste project
Fig paste project
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Fair trade and organic farming are central for Rapunzel


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