Şenocak is a hazelnut exporter in Turkey and a member of the UTZ hazelnut program. They have a process facility and three quality control labs, and now train farmers in UTZ practices as well. During our field trip to Turkey in August 2017, we had the chance to meet up with their management and two of the farmers they work with. The result: three different perspectives of how it is to work within the hazelnut sector and the UTZ hazelnut program.

The UTZ hazelnut program launched in 2014 and now has 4,200 farmers, 16 exporters and processors, and 50+ market members all working to create a more sustainable hazelnut sector.

Closer contact with farmers to minimize risks

UTZ team and Şenocak staff in Turkey

Ozgur Genc from Şenocak (middle) together with a colleague and UTZ staff

Ozgur Genc has worked in the hazelnut sector for 18 years, and has been at Şenocak for the last ten. She works at their processing facility near Ordu as Quality Manager. Şenocak had experience with certification before, but UTZ was a new level for them.

Ozgur Genc explains:

Before UTZ, I had never set foot in the hazelnut orchards, but now I am encouraged to connect more with the farmers. Through these connections we are able to better identify risks in the field and take action straight away.

She continues: “It was easy for us to implement the UTZ requirements for the handling of the hazelnuts in the supply chain. But all the requirements for the farmers – on farm management, good agricultural practices, and social and environmental issues – were new to us.”

Since joining UTZ, Şenocak has hired two field consultants who have been training 40 farmers. Before UTZ they didn’t have quality controls in the fields and much of their costs were selecting hazelnuts to match client specifications. Now their farmers are following the UTZ requirements, Ozgur hopes to see a better quality product to lower these costs. “Already, we are receiving more and more client requests for UTZ certified products,” she notes.

Becoming a better farmer

Hamza Furtun is one of the farmers trained by Şenocak. He owns a 3-hectare hazelnut orchard in Saraycik, a town outside of Ordu. In the summer, he lives in his house near the field, but for the rest of the season he lives in a house in Ordu. He hires around 15 workers during the harvest season for 8-10 days. They are local people and Hamza knows them personally. About the UTZ program and the trainings provided by Şenocak he says:

Hazelnut farmer quote Hamza Furtun Turkey

By doing doing pre-harvest and post-harvest activities rather than just coming to his orchard for the harvest, Hamza expects to improve his yield by 4 tons this year alone. Proud of his achievements he shows anyone, neighbors and other visitors, around in his orchard.

Being a better employer

We also met with Sabahattin Ilgun, a hazelnut farmer based in Persembe, Ordu. He owns a 1.7-hectare hazelnut orchard and hires several workers from the south-east part of Turkey during the harvest.  When he’s not farming, Sabahattin is an imam in his community.

Sabahattin sees value in the UTZ standard. He didn’t have any difficulties with implementing the UTZ requirements, although he found the new fertilization method he learnt to be more difficult than the one he used before.

Last year, he rebuilt the workers’ house on his farm to meet UTZ standards. He explains:

More hazelnuts

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Want to dive deeper into hazelnuts? Understand more about the challenges facing the hazelnut sector and what UTZ is doing to tackle them.  And if you’re convinced certified hazelnuts are the way forward, join the UTZ program today.