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The Back Story: Hazelnuts in Turkey

For the past eight years, Sadullah Durusu has been following in the footsteps of his father, growing hazelnuts on the family land in Ülper Village, in Giresun Province in the Black Sea Region of northeastern Turkey. While he upholds his family hazelnut farming tradition, he also works as a bus driver and raises three children, the eldest of whom is graduating this year from university. CropLife International interviewed him about his farming practices.

The hazelnut is one of Turkey’s signature crops, with the country accounting for nearly three-quarters of the global total. The majority of Turkey’s output is exported as a key ingredient in pralines, chocolate spread and numerous other food products associated with Europe.

But the production of the crop is challenging: hazelnuts face threats from pests including the European Schaffer, pear blight beetle, and diseases such as mildew.

Even with the measured use of pesticides, Sadullah estimates that he loses about 15% of his six to eight tonnes of hazelnuts each year. Losses would be far greater without access to pesticides, such as the spray for weevil which is used selectively and with great care.

Further losses might just stop Sadullah’s family business from being viable in the long term: he estimates that without plant protection, the farm would lose a further 12,000 Turkish Lira (3,700 EUR) from a total annual turnover of 80,000 Lira (20,000 EUR). To put that in perspective, without pesticides, Sadullah’s loss would be the equivalent of the total wages he pays his workers each month.

Sadullah was recently nominated as one of a group of #FoodHeroes. Learn more about Sadullah and his hazelnut production here.

Did You Know?

  • Turkey is the preeminent producer of hazelnuts, accounting for 64% of the world’s 858,697 tonnes (2013 figures).  Italy, Georgia and the United States are also major producers.
  • In Turkey, hazelnuts are roasted and eaten alongside Turkish tea. In Europe, it’s an essential ingredient in numerous products of cultural significance, from Belgian pralines to Nutella.
  • The hazelnut contains numerous minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, and a handful of hazelnuts (25-30g) provide the body’s entire daily vitamin E requirement.
  • Female Nut Weevils (Curculio nucum) deposit a single egg inside a young hazelnut, 20-30 at a time. When the larvae hatch, they feed from the inside of the nut outwards, eating most of the nut.
  • Nut weevils are currently controlled by the spraying of insecticides, although research into the use of entomopathogenic nematodes is underway.


Sadullah Durusu, Hazelnut farmer, near the village of Iper, Turkey.
Copyright: Guilhem Alandry/Doculab