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The harvest of hazelnuts in Georgia is hampered by a labor shortage

In Western Georgia, the harvest of hazelnuts is actively underway, but farmers are facing a shortage of labor – according to the head of the Association of Nuts Growers, Georgy Todua, the daily salary of pickers has increased to 50 GEL per day (about $ 16), but the shortage is still an unsolved problem. Business Georgia reports.

According to the head of association, this year the harvest increased by 10,000 tons, while the price of nuts ranges from 3 to 7 GEL/kg ($ 0.96–2.24) depending on the quality.

“The harvest of hazelnuts has been going on for almost a week, and so far about 30% of the harvest has been collected. An average quality product costs 6 GEL, a high one – 7, as for low quality nuts, their purchase price is about 3-4 GEL per kg. The quality mainly depends on the growers themselves – those who have not managed carefully the orchards will end up with less income” he said.

At the same time, this year the exports of hazelnuts will grow and amount to 60,000 tons. Among the problems remains a shortage of labor, which is exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We have a labor problem. Salaries have increased, but there are still not enough people. Among the reasons – including the pandemic, since the pickers work in groups, and if someone in one group gets sick with coronavirus, then the whole group is removed from work. Another problem is emigration. Many residents Georgians from rural areas who could work for us have gone abroad, for example, to Turkey. If we recalculate taking into account all expenses, it turns out that we pay no less at harvesting than in Turkey, but many still prefer employment abroad. A large harvest is, of course, very good, but it is bad when there are not enough people to harvest it” said the head of the Nuts Growers Association.

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